Somebody described cherries as beautiful butterflies, you blink and they’re gone, hence Raiano’s seasonal sagra being so appreciated in Abruzzo the first Sunday in June.
Cherry production in Italy began in earnest following the sharp decline in the price of silk after the 1st World War; local farmers began chopping down their mulberry trees whose use had been two-fold, the wood to act as vine supports and the leaves sent to the silk worm factories. Farmers now began planting fruit crop trees especially the lighter red amarelle cherries that are tasty dainties compared to some of the sumo cherries I’ve been offered state-side.
Raiano has been putting on its unusual one-day sagra since 1939, and it’s become so important on the Italian stage that cherries get sent to this town from all over for tasting and grading, 390 masl sitting north of Sulmona in the Peligna Valley. Formerly a Roman settlement known as Radianum, the town has been rebuilt over the centuries following nearby earthquakes, and the cherry festival is just one way for this small town of 2700 inhabitants to celebrate their historical agricultural roots together artistically, culturally, and with the sweetest of fruits formerly reserved for the wealthy.
In the afternoon, the cherry procession gathers with over a km of floats that contain locals and particularly children dressed up to the nines in the style of times gone by. You really feel that the town and its surrounding villages get a genuine kick from entering into the spirit of the event, and any sense of bashfulness in dressing up goes right out the window and grins galore rule the day proving quite infectious. At this time of year in the local area the gorse is in flower and its bright yellow flowers garland the floats and perfume the air with their musky coconut fragrance.
There is naturally lots of opportunities to taste and the great thing is that cherries are good for you, with lots of free-radicals, so there is no reason not to get stuck in. There is a gourmet market with local suppliers out in force, and one particularly good stall selling home-made ice-cream whose fruit flavours were some of the best we have tasted in Italy, quite delicious. Local bands playing a mixture of rock and local folk music in the evening kept things moving apace.
Raiano Cherry Sagra Date: – First Weekend in June
For more info: Sagra delle Ciliegie Raiano
Sam is a very lucky midlife mamma to A who is 5 and works as a freelance travel and food web content manager and copywriter. She is currently writing a book 'Abruzzo: Folk and Food', its release date is Winter 2017.
She is the co-founder of the social enterprises: The Abruzzo Blogger Community and Let's Blog Abruzzo.
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I shall be munching cherries!
There is another cherry festival- in Giuliano Teatino, Provincia di Chieti . It is held the 27 May 2012. This year is its 29th sagra
Link to last year's sagra poster: .http://www.comune.giulianoteatino.ch.it/include/mostra_foto_allegato.php?servizio_egov=ev3&idBlocco=57&idTesto=1.
Here is its listing in the Italian association of cities of cherry production http://www.cittadelleciliegie.it/: (click on associti)- scroll to bottom. http://www.cittadelleciliege.it/index.php?option=….
How can I send you some adorable photos of a past sagra that I took, as it is the town of my maternal granndparents.
Giuliano Teatino è il maggiore produttore abruzzese di questo frutto – dalla francese bigarreau moreau ai duroni modenesi, passando dalla ferrovia pugliese all'adriana veneta -, ma la sua sagra celebra soprattutto il durone rosato, tipica ciliegia della zona. Tra concorsi di pittura, sfilate, canti e balli d'epoca, fiaccolate e teatro dialettale, mangiatene pure a chili, tanto nei mesi invernali le rimpiangerete ugualmente. E non vi basterà una seppur squisita marmellata teatina.
Joyce – please whizz them through to hello[at]lifeinabruzzo.com
We visit family in Castervecchio Subequo, a few miles up the mountain from Raiano. Only visiting in August we won’t be able to partake in the festival. My wife who would visit her grandmother for the summer every year when young does remember the fantastic cherries always on the table in their home–obviousally from Raiano.
Yep they are quite unforgetable! One year you\’ll have to come early Mark & check the festival out, it\’s one of the good ones and colours are just wonderful.. as well as the cherries