Saturday, September 10, 2022

Fiera della Bomminella

Cisternino, Puglia, Italy. Thursday 08-September-2022

Once a year we get a bonus market on the 8th of September in addition to the usual Monday market. I can do no better than quote the Commune's own website as translated by Mr Google.


The “Fiera della Bomminella” (“The Fair of the Madonna Child”) is a historical and social event that still retains some gastronomic characteristics of no small importance.

It is one of the oldest fairs in Southern Italy, historically it seems to have been established in the 13th century, during the Reign of the Normans to implement the economy of the Kingdom with the aim of attracting a large number of foreigners in order to encourage trade. but, above all, the aim was to create opportunities for exchange and dissemination of new industrial and artisanal techniques and tools.

At the Fiera di Cisternino everything from cereals, legumes and wheat in general, to livestock was sold; you could find ladders, iron and bronze objects that were used for agriculture and other tools of the trade, for women it was the triumph of canvases, cloths, fabrics, leather, etc.

The fair, however, was not only an opportunity for the interested merchants to meet, but also a lively and frenetic moment for people to meet, enlivened by games and more than a "prize".

To testify the importance of the Fair, on the masonry of the city walls there is a plaque celebrating the prestige of the Fair in the 18th century. In summary it is said that the minister of Naples, Carlo De Marco, authorised by the king, granted that the Cisternino Fair lasted eight days in September, entrusting the jurisdiction to "a master of the fair" elected by the University. This took place on August 18, 1770. The fair masters had the right to use weapons and to guarantee public peace during the event.

Now the Fair takes place on 8 September and lasts the whole day.

It is customary to prepare the special menu which, over the centuries, has been handed down from generation to generation. An excellent opportunity to taste delicacies and, in particular, the Cupptedd 'Cistranese (boiled meat with vegetables), sheep in broth, tripe rolls, chops, bread balls and roasts which, with classic first courses of the peasant tradition, represent an authentic delicacy for palates who love to taste the authentic flavours of the past, an "original" way to truly spend a different day and with the opportunity, from the early morning to at dusk, to be able to taste dishes that are certainly not common. (Semeraro, R. (2005), Cisternino, Fasano (BR), Schena Editore, 1 ed.)

Tradizione Cistranese Fiera Bomminella (original Italian version)

<end quote>

This is the street directly below our apartment.

Most of the market is the usual clothing, shoes, handbags, etc. but down at the market square is where you will find all the tools and hardware.

The crowds were out in force as were people dancing in the streets to the traditional rhythms of the Pizzica at the end of our alley. 

Video courtesy of Julie Ferguson

The alleyway that literally runs under and behind our apartment is called Via La Fiera (our kitchen is built over the archway entrance to the centro storico). We have been told that this was the original site of the fair until houses were built along Corso Umberto I. I believe this to be true as on the wall in the alley you find the plaque mentioned in the article.

We went out with friends to a local grill and pizzeria who were offering the traditional Bomminella dishes so we had to give them a try.

Ristobrace Pizzeria Camelot by Zizzi Vito 

On occasion of the "BOMM'NELLA" 

  • Platter of cold cuts 
  • Cheese platter 
  • Orecchiette with meat sauce with chop
  • Orecchiette with tomato 
  • Tripe rolls 
  • Mutton in pignata 
  • Veal in broth 
  • Donkey chops and meatballs 
  • Mixed roast

A pignata is an earthenware jug used for cooking. The mutton, vegetables and stock are sealed in and cooked for several hours. 

We shared a starter of local speciality fave e cicoria (fava bean puree with chicory). Patsy and I gave the mutton a try but it was clearly cheap cuts of meat and lots of bone so despite the long, slow cook which tenderised it there was more wastage than I would have liked. Our friend Les tried the Cupp'Tedd which was a mixture of tripe, mutton and veal in broth which he enjoyed. Mary had the donkey which looked to be the best choice. All washed down with a couple of litres of local red wine.

The restaurant owner, Vito, and his mates serenaded us a burst of pizzica music. They were one of the troupes who had been playing round town and now appeared to be literally singing for their supper.

It doesn't get much more traditional than this!

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