Festival della Podolica
Brindisi Montagna 14/15 Maggio
Summer must be on the horizon as the sagra season has begun here in Basilicata!
Last week-end nearby Brindisi Montagna hosted their 3rd annual Festival della Podolica (http://www.prolocobrindisimontagna.it/eventi/32DEventiview.asp?key=51). The festival honors this unique breed of cattle from southern Italy that has genetic roots going back over 2000 years. Podolica cattle are prized for their milk which is used to make cheese, especially a southern favorite called caciocavallo. Podolica are a hearty breed that is adapted to the rugged terrain of the south and the sometimes sparse vegetation, especially during the hottest period of the summer. Their digestive system is adapted to eating some forage that other livestock would avoid.
The stands around the centro storico featured grilled meats and Podolica cheese along with other local products. A stage was set-up in the main piazza where some local folk dancers performed traditional routines. Since Brindisi Montagna is less than fifteen minutes from our town we encountered many of our friends amongst the crowds.
This sagra also honored the town’s patron saint, San Nicola, and the night’s activities kicked off with a large falò, bonfire, in his honor. The sticks and pine trees were piled two stories high and when lit it sent sparks into the air showering the nearby buildings and spectators alike. Feste with a falò are a common event here in Basilicata as we have attended or heard about several where this is a center piece of the activities. It would seem that mountains with an abundance of forests have long made for a tradition of falò.
The chiesa madre bells rang for almost an hour as San Nicola’s statue was carried from the church and paraded through town. The ringing of the bells and crackling of the fire were also accompanied by fireworks over the town before San Nicola was returned to his place of honor in the Chiesa di San Nicola di Bari.
Let the food and fun begin!