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Tuck into some of the best Italian food festivals

IMG_2657OK. So you’ve already missed Italy’s Ladispoli Festival of the Artichoke, the Monterosso Lemon Festival held in the exquisite historic Cinque Terre village and the Bolzano Gourmet Festival where the South Tyrolean town focuses on apples, wine, and speck, the deep red smoked pork. But do not despair. Italy still has so much left in store for you in 2015 if you love good food.

July 23-26 is the Trapani Street Food Fair where the historic fish market at this Sicilian seaside town is an ideal location for the annual celebration of the best of Mediterranean street food. Enjoy delicacies like fried chickpea fritters, stuffed boneless pork, and tiny whole deep-fried shrimp. Then, on Sun September 6th, and from Friday 11-Sunday 13, in Chiavenna, Lombardy, the spectacular Sagra dei Crotti, 

Inside the secret world of the Cats of Vercana, Italy

The beautiful little Lombardy village of Vercana perches on the hillside looking down on Lake Como above the village of Domaso on the north western side of the Lake. Officially it has slightly fewer than 800 residents, swollen by summer tourists who clamour for the priceless view and peaceful old world charm. It is an enchanting higgledy-piggledy labyrinth of old buildings with terracotta roofs, tiny cobbled lane ways and mysterious alleyways,  lush vegetable gardens and mini-vineyards heavy with wine grapes crammed onto the hillside tiers; it historic churches with beautiful frescoes and tiny personal shrines;  houses with upstairs barns full of winter hay, cellars packed with wood for the fires and the constant cackle of  the family chickens. Everywhere flowers. And cats. Sleek. Aloof. Alert, Shy. Snooty. Doted on. Out on patrol or basking on the sun-heated

Gastronomic adventure in Chiavenna, Lombardy, Italy

In Italy, food is more than just something to eat. Food is family and friends; it is goodIMG_2674
wine and lots of laughter; it is the slow swirl of wood smoke and the aroma of onions sautéing in olive oil; it is a recipe passed down from generation to generation but still never quite as good as when Nonna makes it; it is huge misshapen but oh-so-sweet tomatoes and aubergine that go straight from the vine to the saucepan; it is cheese ripened to perfection. In other words, it is serious stuff.

The Sagra dei crotti is a four-day gastronomic adventure centred around the crotti of Chiavenna, Lombardy, in September every year. It celebrates all that is wonderful about
IMG_2772the area’s food, wine and tradition. The crotti are hollows formed by rock movement in prehistoric times still cooled by the sorei, a natural breeze from underground which keeps at a steady 6-8 degrees, perfect for maturing cheese, hams and salami and storing and ageing wine. Highlight is the Andem a Crot Chiavenna where you create a full meal by choosing four different crotti, enjoying a different food tasting at each. All four are accompanied by a boccalino of selected local wine, drunk from traditional pottery di vino “jugs” which you


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