Abruzzo Festival with Medieval Sausages & Beans!
Looking for somewhere to escape briefly from the plots and intrigues of so-called friends or family, possibly even intimations of assassination?! Then perhaps Castiglione della Valle is the place for you! It was good enough for Lucrezia Borgia and her second husband Alfonso of Aragorn in 1499, when they took temporary refuge there with a small retinue, sporting and laughing gaily in the forests & rivers near this delightful medieval village…To celebrate this historic event a special Abruzzo Festival is held annually in August (3rd-5th) in Castiglione della Valle (aka Castrum Leonis Vallis). We were lucky enough, through the kindness of our geometra to get tickets to the event in August 2007.
Castiglione della Valle is hidden away in a (normally) tranquil, leafy valley, just north of the town of Colledara. Many of the buildings in the village are in considerable need of restoration, but the potential is amazing… Many have been sympathetically restored already. On the night of the “Lucrezia Borgia” festival a bus took us (and many jolly Italians of all ages) from Colledara down the road that winds into the valley alongside the Fiumetto river, before gently ascending to the village of Castiglione della Valle itself. From there on foot we made our way into the village. First stop the trestle table acting as “bank” where we converted euros into “ducati” & “carlini”, old-style currency for which to pay for food, drink &c.
Actors and street performers in period costume were dotted throughout the village; jugglers, fire-eaters, “beggars”, and a choir helped the anticipation as we waited what seemed an age to be allowed through into the main square and the banqueting tables. Finally, on the heels of a torch-light procession, we were led through & seated. Food was simple but tasty fare; bread, sausage and some sort of sauce made I think with sardines, with choice of red or white wine, served from flagons (and if you were lucky by buxom wenches), followed by “Faggiuoli del Fiumetto” – beans in a cassoulet style broth – barbecued pork, cheese & ham, and biscotti to end…and lots of wine, which I think you were meant to pay for but somehow we got away with…
The square was crammed full of families, local
teenagers, and the occasional semi-disapproving resident looking on from their balconies, and the atmosphere was excellent, enhanced by the likes of cosmological pan-mythological stilt-walkers, comedians (mostly lost on me admittedly) and a re-enactment of events leading up to the murder of Alfonso of Aragorn by Lucrezia’s brother Cesare, played with great enthusiasm and gusto by the actors.
This was I think the 15th year of this Abruzzo festival, and I hope we can go again…it is apparently walkable from Bascianella…”walkable” by local standards anyway…0