The wild boar festival in Ostra made a big impression on Elke and Otto last year. How can we blame them? Our sagra tradition is very strongly rooted in Le Marche. Indeed, I have just had a friend visiting from Norway, and he couldn’t believe his eyes when taking a look at the public boards filled up with sagra posters happening in July and August!
The Pappardelle al Cinghiale festival, as it is correctly called, is one of the biggest ones and lasts for a whopping 6 days! This year it will take place again between August 4th and 9th.
Small place – lots of people
This is what Elke experienced last year:
I had read in the announcements that it will be held in Ostra, but when we get there it doesn’t look like a festival at all. We ask a lonely passer-by who is walking his dog where the party is. That is in Casine di Ostra, about 3 kilometers outside. When we get there, there is a festive atmosphere in the village, which has just under 1,300 inhabitants.
As always, there is enough free parking somewhere, this time on a meadow.
We deliberately chose a weekday to visit as we thought it might be too crowded at the weekend. In fact, it is also extremely well attended on Wednesday. But just before Ferragosto (the important holiday of August 15th, when it feels like the whole of Italy is vacationing somewhere by the sea) there are so many festivals that people can go to. So this one has to be legendary and popular.
The festival is organized with military precision, so that we don’t have to wait long despite the large crowds: even before we line up at one of the many checkout lines, we can write down our food and drink requests on a piece of paper. As a result, the ordering process itself is quite quick at the end. Then we get separate receipts for the food and for the drinks and can use them to queue at the appropriate distribution points. Everything is organized here too: there are separate queues for the different dishes and things are moving very quickly.
The whole food serving area is so huge that we can only guess that tons of wild boar are going over the counter here.
Wild boar – very numerous in the Marche
I like eating game because the meat doesn’t come from factory farming. There is an incredible number of wild boars in Le Marche: they come close to our house and you can sometimes see packs of large and small animals running across the road. During the Corona period, when there were curfews for a long time, the stocks increased so much that the hunters from our community said they had killed around 500 animals just around our place last year!
Accordingly, wild boar is on the menu at many festivals and in a number of restaurants in Le Marche region. Pappardelle al Cinghiale, i.e. very wide tagliatelle with a wild boar sauce, is a real classic of Marchigian cuisine.
No feast for vegetarians
But there are also other dishes, such as crescia, pasta with duck sauce, melon with ham, sausages or normal pork schnitzel. Unfortunately, this festival seems less suitable for vegetarians or vegans: the only vegetarian options on the menu are fries and grilled tomatoes and aubergines as side dishes.
We sit down to eat at one of the long tables that are under a large tent construction: Even if it rains, there would be untroubled enjoyment here! While we eat our pasta with wild boar, wild boar schnitzel and grilled vegetables as a side dish, we are amazed again:
Because even the dishes are cleared away professionally! The volunteers tirelessly push little carts through the benches and separate the rubbish directly into recycling rubbish, paper waste and residual waste!
Our first traumatic festival experience many years ago.
What a blessing! At one of our very first festivals in Le Marche, a polenta festival with a significantly smaller audience, we had experienced the exact opposite, namely complete chaos: there was a crowd of many people flocking around the cash desk. The completely overwhelmed volunteers had slips of paper with different colors for the different dishes, but wrote on the slips again what they were for, just to be on the safe side. That took an awfully long time.
As we queued up with our slips of paper in an increasingly jostling crowd of people at the food counter, the bad news came bit by bit that some dishes had run out in the meantime. And as we got closer to the issue, there was almost nothing left. So we lined up again at the cash register to get our money back. We drove home frustrated and hungry. That would not have happened to us at the exemplary organized and well-attended Pappardelle Festival in Casine di Ostra!
Music, dance and a guessing game with big prizes
But back to Casine di Ostra: After the meal we stroll around a bit. A band has been playing tirelessly for quite a while, but now people are even dancing in front of the stage.
The lottery is also popular: no tickets are issued here, but you have to guess how high the whole ham is hanging on a scaffolding and how heavy it is. The first prize is a mountain bike, the second is an LCD television and the third is a watch. Places 4 to 15 are in kind: whole ham, whole sausages and wine are promised to the lucky winners.
We’ll be back next week!
Around 11 p.m. it gets much emptier.
We go back to the car elated and comfortably full and know that we will be back for the next party. Tomorrow it’s that time again, but we’ll probably go there again on a weekday.