Chestnuts, mushrooms and truffles: delicious fruits of Romagna
I already spoke about my first adventures in Portico di Romagna, so you may ask why I am still writing about it. Do you have a special heart spot in the world? A place where you feel like home and where you would like to settle your nest? Mine is Portico di Romagna.
The underwood fruits fair
In Italy almost every little village has its own yearly ancient fair. Most of the times they are dedicated to the local saint or to a specific event or product of the area. So it is here with the fair of the local under wood products: mushrooms, truffles, red and dark fruits (raspberry, blackberry and similar), chestnuts. Here nature is very severe: no land to cultivate, only stones, woods and wild animals.
People since centuries got accustomed to live with the poor products of the woods, which are now very precious and much requested by the local markets. Recipes based on them are coming directly from history and while they were used to prepare every day’s poor meals, now represent a gourmand food.
So as in many Romagna fairs in the surroundings, Portico di Romagna express its tradition that is proudly offered to the tourists and visitors of this small paradise.
The Portico fair, as it always happens in this little borough, is something exciting: all the people living in the surroundings come over to offer their products. A rainbow of fall colors: reds, browns, yellows all mixed together like the colors of the Fall Foliage (see my previous post on it).
The village becomes a medieval local market with sellers that are not the ones you can see in a normal market. Useless to say I decided to buy some of these delicatessen even if I’m not really sure how to cook them!
People are waiting this fair to buy the best truffles or to find the chestnuts they will eat with a tasty local Sangiovese red wine in winter, by their fireplace.
This year Portico di Romagna was also one of the center of the Autunno Slow campaign, organized by the National Park of Foreste Casentinesi and Monte Falterona and Atlantide. It was also the chance to visit the little artisans that are living and working in the village since 2013 (an idea of Mr Massimiliano Cameli of Ristorante Hotel Vecchio Convento, by the way).
Thousands of people gathered here in a huge flow all over the borough a real peaceful and gourmand invasion.
The “Botteghine” of Portico di Romagna
The village has a very old traditions of artisans working here. The loss of population migrating towards the bigger towns, make it disappear them, losing one of the principle economic resources. Now some young artists and artisans decided to come here and open their shops or Botteghe, the ancient word used to define places where people used to produce and sell at the same time and where you could ask for special creations made on demand.
Il Castello Errante
I met Cristiano 2 years ago; he had just found a place to open, an old garage unused for years. Cristiano works the iron, he is a blacksmith. One of the weirdest, ancient jobs I have ever fallen upon. The blacksmith was a very important man once: weapons, armors, horseshoes and many other things connected to the war times of Mediaeval Age were built by this man. Cristiano uses his hands, the fire and the anvil: nothing more than this to transform an ancestral material into amazing work of arts. By the way, if you want to buy some jewels, ask Katia, his lovely girlfriend. www.ilcastelloerrante.com
Lucia work clay, watching her manipulating this poor material with hands and lathe. Today, during the fair, she is working outside her shop, a small place full of funny and lovely creations, that remind the ancient pottery of Faenza (a town that stays along the via Emilia with the most important international collection of ancient potteries in Europe) but also the way vase, glasses, jars were decorated and used at those times. Shabby chic nice things, ready to be living with you in your kitchen or in your house.
Bottega del borgo
This is the reign of Giuliana and Silvia. Giuliana work with an ancient wooden frame, doing bed covers and other household line, as women used to do in old times. Last year the bloggers of Romagna Diffusa Blog Tour, Catherine Sweeney and Teresa Keane, spent a very lovely afternoon learning the technique of frame working and it was a real fan. Giuliana is an old nice lady, quite surly sometimes, but ready to give you a smile and tell you her history. As Silvia, the painter, which works in the other part of the shop. Colours and new materials are the plus of Silvia who always tries and experiment new ideas and ways of expressing her concept which is quite a modern one. You can find a gallery of her work on http://www.art-apart.it/
The Medieval Games
And finally, every chance is good to recall the times of Knights and Ladies. These are some shots of the historical celebration under the Portinari Tower, in the upper part of the borough.
Disclosure: this post was made during a visit organised by Atlantide during Autunno Slow. Thank to Fabiana Succi for the helpful and loving collaboration, to the Cameli Family of Albergo Ristorante Vecchio Convento for hosting me during the day and to all the owners of the Botteghine for the cooperation while visiting their shops.