Do As The Locals Do: The Cherry Festival of Lari
Location: Lari (Pisa), Tuscany
Dates: May 28th and 29th & June 4th and 5th, 2011
Why You Should Go: While vineyard laden hills marked by the long, sinewy shadows of cypress trees in the late afternoon call to mind the Tuscany of most imaginations, orchards of succulently ripe cherries seem a distinct departure from the expected. The tiny burg of Lari, located in the Province of Pisa and just outside of Florence, is the setting for a unique festival entitled La Sagra delle Ciliegie (The Cherry Festival), dedicated to the ruby red fruit. Although not the number one cherry producing region in Italy, Lari is said to be the proud home of over 15 cherry varietals, which the locals showcase with joy at their annual festival. Set amongst rolling, orchard lined hills, Lari is a medieval stunner replete with an ancient castle, Il Castello dei Vicari or otherwise affectionately known by the locals as Il Castello, which serves as a lofty backdrop for the festival that takes place within the town’s historic quarter.
Marking the 55th year of the festival’s consecutive celebration beginning in 1957, this year’s attractions will not only include the gastronomical worship of all things cherry, including traditional dishes, local delicacies, liqueurs, desserts, baked goods, crafts and home goods featuring the keynote fruit, but also other specialities, curiosities and fresh produce indicative of the area. Local artisans, gourmands, artists and crafters will gather to partake in cherry related contests and cook offs, while bringing their own unique flavors to the mix with stands dedicated to the selling of specialized wares. Musical performers are scheduled to bring added zeal to the overall celebratory atmosphere of the festival, as visitors from both near and far are encouraged to bring their own energetic spirit to the tiny burg for two consecutive weekends: Saturday, May 28th and Sunday, May 29th, and Saturday, June 4th and Sunday, June 5th, 2011. While the locals never seem to be in short supply of love for these crimson beauties, this year’s festival will not doubt be quite a cherry jubilee.