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Food Festivals of Friuli: Celebrating the Bounty of Italy’s Carnia Mountains

Tucked away in Italy’s northeast corner, Friuli–Venezia Giulia stretches from the Adriatic Sea to the boundaries of Austria and Slovenia. It is along the region’s Austrian border that the flat plains of central Friuli ascend into forested hills and snow-capped peaks. With the Carnian Alps (Carnia) in the west and the Giulian Alps (Tarvisiano) to the east, this mountainous area is sprinkled with onion-domed church steeples, gabled chalets, and Alpine farmhouses. Isolated from the rest of the region by rugged mountains and long, treacherous roads, Carnia embodies everything I long for in nature—wildflowers, birdsong, open meadows where I can twirl like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.

On several trips to Friuli in 2004 and 2005, I planned my itinerary around a few of the region’s numerous food festivals, all in either Carnia proper or the area at the base of the Alps known as Alto Friuli. While there was always a trade-off—tranquil, tourist-free villages inevitably became overwhelmed by flocks of visitors—I found these festivals to be an invaluable opportunity to learn about Friulian culture and interact with the local people.

Over the following month, I’ll take you on a tour of the following five food festivals:

Festa dell’Asparago di Bosco, del Radicchio di Montagna, e dei Funghi di Primavera—Arta Terme Festa del Prosciutto—Sauris Mondo delle Malghe—Ovaro Festa dei Frutti di Bosco—Forni Avoltri Festa della Zucca—Venzone
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And should the Winter never come? What then, uh?
My Pain, Your Gain