What do black celery, sausages, truffles, chestnuts, and a medieval race through town have in common? For the charming town of Trevi, it means October—and a month-long series of festivals, celebrations, and competitions. Everyone gets involved. And people come from all around Umbria and beyond to, well... eat.
The first Sunday in October is Palio dei Terziere, which means men, women, and children dressed in colorful medieval garb are pulling decked-out wooden carts and running chaotically all over the town. Why? Because since back in the 13th century, Trevi has been divided into three terziere, or neighborhoods (Castello, Matigggia, and Piano), and, like with any ‘hood, its residents have to prove that “mine is better than yours.” (The Italian prove-it gene has officially been tacked onto the regional genome map.)
During this annual Palio, the participants from each neighborhood begin the race by pulling a key out of the right hand of a statue of a Saracen figure. They race up and down the warren of streets to a tower to unlock its door, then race up the stairs to ring the bell, whose triumphant chimes announce the victor. Meanwhile, we lucky spectators take a seat at the long tables set up outside the little restaurants in each neighborhood—all of which are also, of course, vying for best terziere in the food category!—and cheer the competitors on, eating and drinking all the while, and celebrating both the winners and Trevi’s history carried forth by its proud citizens.
Another of Trevi’s claims to fame is its “black” celery, sedano nero, which reaches maturity in October. No, it’s not really black, just a darker hue than the pale varieties we’re used to ... The general belief is that it has something to do with the pure spring waters used in irrigation over the course of centuries. Whatever it is that distinguishes Trevi’s celery, its flavor is deliciously robust and local cooks have mastered a myriad ways to prepare it, incorporate it, and pair it, making it worthy indeed of its own festival (the Italian equivalent of sainthood for food), held the third Sunday in October. It comes with “expert” judging, ribbons and certificates, and even strolling minstrels.
Not to be outdone, local butchers also gather in the town square on this day to flaunt their sausages... made from the pigs who, as everyone knows, offer up their best meat in the first chill of the fall. Grills are fired up in the afternoon and the sausages roasted, a perfect prelude to the feasts (okay, pig-out) that await in the evening in the local taverne. And so, the Trevi Sausage Festival is now one with the Trevi Black Celery Festival (and probably mostly because sausages go really really well with a side of celery), making this day (la Sagra del Sedano e della Salsiccia) a memorably tasty treat for anyone lucky to be in Trevi on the third Sunday in October.
Finally, the last weekend of the month brings on the Trevi Medieval Festival, a photogenic dream, of costumed townsfolk celebrating old traditions, songs, dances, and, of course foods, which include everything mentioned above, plus pungent pecorinos from local sheep, and meats and pastas smothered in or tossed indolently with truffles and their miraculous oils. And then there are the chestnut desserts ...
If you can’t be there for a festival weekend, weep not... Friday is market day in Trevi and in autumn (or any other time of year), you’ll find the bounty of the season overflowing the stalls of Piazza del Commune. In short, between the exuberant celebrations and the abbondanza of locally sourced foods, life in Trevi in the golden month of October is indeed a festival. Benvenuti a tavola!
These vacation rentals in Umbria, all located in Trevi, offer an ideal base for exploring the hidden wonders of the region and beyond:
The terrace of Fra Angelico, a 14th century Trevi townhouse, commands a spectacular view across rolling hills, olive graves, and other nearby hill towns. You can walk to the town’s medieval center in just a few minutes.
Charming Palio is perfect for a couple seeking the easy pleasures of village life and access to Umbria’s hidden gems.
Located in the pedestrian-only center of Trevi, cozy Terziere makes a perfect hideaway and base for Umbria discoveries.
The spacious two-bedroom San Francesco, furnished in 16th century heirlooms, was once a nobleman’s palace.