Festa or Sagra: What’s the Difference?

You don’t have to wait for summer to travel to Southern Italy. Fall in Italy, especially in the southern parts, is a wonderful time to visit. Aside from the great weather and a kaleidoscope of gorgeous colors, you will most likely have the opportunity to experience a festa or sagra. You can pretty much guarantee that every weekend throughout October and November in the main piazza of a town, village or small city there is a festa or sagra of some sort.

You may already be familiar with the term festa, which means festival. A festa is typically a religious holiday, usually to celebrate the town’s patron saint. On the day of the festa, everything will most likely be closed for the celebration but don’t worry there is still plenty you can do. A festa almost always involves a religious procession, which is an authentic Italian tradition that goes way back.

Procession of La Madonna del Pilerio (Cosenza, Calabria)

Procession of La Madonna del Pilerio (Cosenza, Calabria)

There is something quite captivating in watching the locals work together to carry a heavy statue throughout the town. After the procession, the festa usually includes a street market, musical guest and a wide array of local treats. It is a “real” Italian experience that money can’t buy.

Local products made with chestnuts

Local products made with chestnuts

A sagra also means festival, but it is centered on food, usually tied to the region in which it takes place. We can look at it as a local fair. Getting to a sagra may not always be easy – you’ll probably need a car to get there because most sagre (plural of sagra) take place in small towns and villages which are not always easily accessible by public transportation. If you have the chance to check out a sagra, do it! Many towns organize communal tables and serve up a full course home-cooked meal prepared by the locals. It doesn’t get much better than that! It is a fantastic way to see what Italian country life is like and you will be able to taste great and authentically prepared food without breaking the bank. A sagra will also typically have competitions, lotteries, musical entertainment and games. It’s the perfect way to live like an Italian!

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Contributing Writer for:

DKTravel1Michelin