One fish, two fish, red fish, fried fish. Well, if you’re in Camogli, it’s fried fish. And lots of it.
Camogli is a stunning seaside village in the Liguria region of Italy. The Camogli Fish Festival, or La Sagra del Pesce in Camogli, began during World War II as a dedication to St. Fortunato, the patron saint of fishermen. Each year on the second Sunday in May, in the Piazza Colombo near the marina, tourists and town folk alike flood the plaza for some of the tastiest fried fish delectables…and they’re free!
Besides the draw of free food, you won’t want to miss the center of attention – a giant frying pan that weighs 28 tons, is just over 13 feet in diameter, and has a handle, get this, of almost 20 feet long!
For the better part of the day, locals fry up over 30,000 dishes, which includes about 3 tons of fresh fish and about 800 gallons of oil. I wonder how they clean the pan once their done?
A few days before the giant fish free-for-all, visitors gather to enjoy live music to ease into the weekend festivities. The next day, their marina is host to fresh markets and food stalls where visitors can sample all the fresh local produce and cuisine. Later in the evening you can play witness to a traditional religious procession followed by some spectacular fireworks displayed over the waterfront.
After all the sparks and flash are over, locals partake in another interesting tradition. Residents from two of the Camogli districts, Porto and Pinetto, engage in a bit of a competition. Large bonfires are ignited by a firewire that descends from a nearby church steeple, onto the beach where wooden and paper sculptures await, each year with a different theme. The day before, local residents fill these massive structures with items they want to get rid of, like old furniture, wood remnants, or anything else that will safely burn bright. No worries, the fire brigade is close at hand managing and maintaining with a regular dousing from a firehose.
The next day, Sunday, May 13th this year, the fish festival officially kicks off with a blessing of the giant pan, and by noon the frying frenzy begins!
All of this fishy fabulousness has us thinking about summer getaways and beachside picnics.
As we finally get ready to shed the last of the cooler temperatures, we relish starting to plan the first big outdoor spread with family and friends. Putting some of our finest summer ceramic dinnerware at the center of our seaside table décor, we mix it up with items from our Mediterraneo, Panarea, and Porto Venere collections. Just because we’re dining al fresco is no reason not to make the event a special experience. Forgo the paper plates and plastic forks and incorporate a bit of beauty that ensures your guests feel as special as the moment.
How do you like to adorn your seaside table setting? Is it blankets and baskets or popup tables and a beautiful table setting? Is fried fish on the menu or do you have other traditions that conjure up ocean views and summer fun?
No matter how you spend your summer moments, we hope they are filled with the special people in your lives and, of course, good food and wine, and maybe a bit of Italian travel.
Camogil Image Credit: nevio doz