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Cannara

Wonderful discovery the Umbrian village of Cannara! An extremely charming village with its stone and brick houses, the small church, the windows decorated with vases of colorful flowers and the narrow alleys where small shops and artisans’ workshops still overlook. Walking through its streets, you can feel an atmosphere of yesteryear, with local traditions mixed with daily life. It is best known for its rich history, cultural traditions, and agricultural production, especially onions, which are considered some of the best in the country. Cannara has ancient origins, dating back to Roman times. Its name probably derives from the Latin “canna,” referring to the reeds that grew abundantly along the banks of the Topino River, which runs through the municipality. During the Middle Ages, the village was an important agricultural and commercial center. Its history is closely linked to that of Assisi, and over the centuries it passed under the dominion of various lordships and noble families. The Church of San Matteo is one of the most important religious buildings in Cannara. Originally built in the thirteenth century, it has been remodeled several times and preserves works of art of great value. Another significant place of worship, located in the Old Town, known for its frescoes and striking architecture is the Church of the Good Death.

Cannara was born in a humid and clayey environment that has favored the development of luxuriant crops, among which the famous Cannara onions stand out. Cannara onions are today the pride of Umbria. Famous chefs such as Gianfranco Vissani have celebrated the Cannara onion in many dishes that have become famous around the world. The experience and dedication of onion producers, handed down from generation to generation, have led to the creation of numerous varieties: the red onion, the golden onion, the borrettana onion, each used in the kitchen in different and delicious ways: from jams to meat sauces, salads, pizzas and even desserts. During the month of September, the village is celebrating: hundreds of inhabitants, young people, old people and children joined together prepare one of the Umbrian events par excellence: the Onion Festival. The historic center of Cannara is transformed into a real open-air restaurant, with the scent of onion pervading the streets of the town and the surrounding countryside. This event is a real feast of taste and flavors, an unmissable event for gourmets and connoisseurs of good food. The imagination and skill of Cannara’s chefs are able to enhance and transform this simple product into an infinite variety of new and special dishes, with recipes with a unique and surprising taste.

After the invasion of the public during the September Festival and its resounding success, the people of Cannara have added the winter version of the Onion Festival in December: “Cipolla Winter.” During this holiday, the menu is more intense and typically winter, warming up the Christmas atmosphere with joyful and sparkling decorations, such as the small red and flat onions used to adorn the Christmas Tree set up at the entrance of the stand of the former convent, home to the current “Ancient Courtyard.” This edition offers a unique opportunity to visit Umbria, see the largest Christmas tree in the world in Gubbio, visit the underground Christmas markets of the Rocca Paolina in Perugia and discover the onion delights of Cannara during the theme evenings.

To enhance the culture of the onion, whose cultivation abounded since past centuries thanks to the exploitation of marshy land for agricultural purposes, in 1981 the first edition of what is now known as the “Onion Festival” began in an impromptu form. Some volunteer villagers improvised small taverns along the streets of the historic center, using domestic kitchens, garages, cellars and funds to welcome patrons. The serene and fruitful spirit of this initiative transformed Cannara into one of the most fervent manifestations of good food in the region. Over time, special stands were set up to welcome visitors, such as “Il Giardino Fiorito,” the first stand set up by the Pro Loco of Cannara in 1982.La festival, centered in September, is called “Settembre Cannarese” and celebrates the onion in its food declinations respectful of tradition and the quality of the product. A jury of experts evaluates the quality of the work of each stand, decreeing the winner, who will have the opportunity to replicate in a new winter edition in December. The festival is not only a banquet of haute cuisine, but also a cultural event with dance, theater, music and markets that populate the streets of the village, offering local handicrafts and the famous onion braids.

The Cannara Onion has been many times the protagonist of television broadcasts promoting the “Made in Italy” and showing the Italian agri-food excellences, including the phases of cultivation, harvesting and tying of onions, known for their sweetness, softness and digestibility. Those looking for genuine scenery and authentic traditions can immerse themselves in the onion festival in Cannara, an event that celebrates the simplicity and quality of Italian rural life, offering a unique experience in the heart of Umbria.

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