Festa delle Rane
This "Festa delle Rane" is an event which is honestly quite new to me, like new was the consideration of frogs like a respectable source of food... until I decided to go there!
While peacefully enjoying the sun and the temperatures up to 33 degrees Celsius in the past days, near the hometown of my mother, Quinto Vicentino, THE place of my innocent (and lesso so...) childhood, I have ended up walking (even if running was the original intention) through other small towns in the vicinity (names like Villalta, Valproto, Lanzè say undoubtedly little to those not at home there).
It has been in one of these villages that I started seeing colorful manifestos advertising past and upcoming events, created by the local administrations to attract tourists and visitors from the more famous routes, by advertising the local products of the most different varieties like cheese, salami, wine... and frogs.
This 13th issue of the "festa delle rane" (reading from one of the colorful wallpapers scattered throughout) takes place at the end of June, from the 24th to the 29th in a place that I had never heard of before, called Grossa (how ironical that in italian the name actually means "big"...).
It is so that I decide to take advantage of the fact that I am surely near the place while such a promising festival takes place.
The same evening we decide to visit Grossa and its Festa delle Rane (Festival of the Frogs).
For a small town, the (only) road that leads there from Quinto Vicentino is quite packed with cars, from all the curious people in the surroundings no doubt.
The parking space is made out of a field in the proximity of the "center", namely where the church and the football pitch (behind it) are.
Cars come and slowly fill the big field.
After a walk of approximately 2 minutes we reach the place, a biiiig tent with a few stands around it.
Close to nobody seems to be around, but as we enter the tent we are welcomed by the pleasant chaos of swarming people and their voices.
From within, the tent looks even more massive than it looks from the outside.
Surprisingly organized for such a local event, the first stand to be found is the cashier which is where the crowd stays the most.
From the cashier the orders are electronically transmitted to the big kitchen which is devoted to relentlessly provide food to the swarms of hungry people who continuously come in.
When it is my turn to order, after a quick look at the big menu displayed over the cashiers, I go for the "rane fritte con polenta" (fried frogs with polenta).
Finding a place to seat for 6 people proves to be easy enough and there we sit, waiting for the number of our order to be announced from the speakers.
In the 40 minutes we wait on our order, approximately 4 orders per minutes are fulfilled and they keep coming.
As our number is announced (331) and guided by my legendary hunger, I reach the large bank where the orders are delivered with my talon at hand and well visible.
The looks of the plates is unmistakeable: literally a pile of fried frogs (I can assure you that actually seeing the frogs on your plate is quite different from imagining them) is covering the dish.
Have a look at the picture for yourself!
At first try, I was quite surprised with the taste: maybe because all fried stuff tastes similarly, the first frog does not make a lasting impression, with the added complexity of the small bones (yes, you eat them too) that need to be crunched carefully.
It is only after the first handful that the taste is finally reminding me of a distinctive taste that I would not have expected: these fried frogs tasted like small fried fishes.
Another typical preparation was the risotto con le rane, that none of us took though.
Apart from frogs, which obviously called for lot's of attention, there are a lot of different things that can be tasted.
My wife had a mixed grill meat plate, all with pork meat - that was simply delicious.
All in all, for 6 people, main plates with side dishes, drinks including a bottle of local prosecco (quite rough, but ok :-) ) we paid circa 77 euros - this makes for little less than 13 euros each for a nice meal!
I definitely recommend this Festa delle Rane, especially to be enjoyed with the family of with a group of friends (a small fair is also present, for kids and adults alike - first time I ever saw my father shooting an air gun to hit cans).
Granted, the "frogs" element of this festival is the main attraction and you might simply want to try them out but all the rest is simply delicious (kitchen is filled with professional cooks and caterers).
Probably not worth a trip by itself, the Festa delle Rane is definitely a funny and diverse addition to the wonderful time you can have in these fantastic parts of Italy, when planning your next trip.
Other than being close to a number of wonderful historical places (Vicenza, Verona, Venezia and many more), the area is rich of natural beauties and attractions... and a number of other italian festivals and fairs scattered throughout the region.
A splendid way to discover the territory and enjoy Italy!
From Festa delle Rane to Italian Festivals
From Festa delle Rane to Italian Traditions