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Trevi's Black Celery Festival

In addition to applying highly-regulated geographical indications and denominations to Italy's many traditional specialties to ensure their authenticity, Italians also promote these foods with annual festivals, often called sagre, featuring dishes prepared with the celebrated ingredient in a myriad of forms. One of our favorites is the Festa del Sedano Nero, or Black Celery Festival, held each fall in the picturesque Umbrian hilltown of Trevi.

Trevi-umbria-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Black celery, named for its dark green ribs and leaves, was once common in central Umbria, but the heirloom apium graveolous strain almost died out after WW2 when American celery took over the market.

sedano-nero-trevi-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

In recent years, sedano nero has made a niche comeback among a few select growers near the Clitunno springs in the valley below Trevi, and is beloved for its absence of fibers and intense flavor. Harvesting of this recognized IGP product begins in October, and dovetails nicely with Trevi's other local specialty: extra-virgin olive oil.

olio-nuovo-trevi-cr-maria-landers(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

The festival centers around Trevi's main piazza where there are market stalls hawking long stalks of sedano nero alongside other seasonal specialties local to central Umbria. You can sample raw celery dipped in freshly-pressed local olive oil, accompanied by warm roasted chestnuts, and local red wine. Lest you think the celery festival is a haven for vegetarians, be forewarned: the festival is officially the Black Celery and Sausage Festival, and the most popular stall at the market is the open-air grill cooking up dozens of sausages at a time for sandwiches to go, the scent of which lingers over the entire square. There are also excellent Umbrian cheeses, charcuterie, truffles, autumn produce, and black celery-flavored gourmet treats, including dried pasta and paste for bruschetta, on sale.

salsiccia-trevi-cr-maria-landers(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Trevi-umbria-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Once you've explored the market, you can head to one of the bustling tavernas in town for a celery-inspired sit down meal. Celery and olive oil bruschetta, celery parmigiana, and a rich dish of roasted celery stuffed with local pork sausage and covered in tomato sauce are all featured on the menu, and you will be surprised by how such a humble vegetable can be raised to unforgettable heights.

sedano-nero-ripieno-cr-maria-landers(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

sedano-nero-ripieno-cr-maria-landers(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Though you probably won't be carrying the traditional three stalks of celery back in your luggage, you will be able to pack away memories of a festive celebration of one of Italy's many excellent local products, found in just one place on earth!

Related posts:
Italy's Protected Foods: Deciphering STG, IGP, and DOP Labels
Bringing Food and Wine Souvenirs Back From Italy
Fresh Pressed Olive Oil

Contributor: Rebecca Winke

Concierge in Umbria
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