Captivating European Culturally Inspired Vacations: From Outdoor Opera Performances in Verona to an Elegant Dinner on a Bridge in Italy with 4,000 Other Guests
A Magical Journey Full of Entertainment and Culture
Festa del Nodo D’Amore /Tortellini Festival in Valeggio-sul-Mincio, Italy
A Spectacular Dinner on the Visconteo Bridge crossing the Mincio River, June 17, 2014
Valeggio-sul-Mincio is the capital of the original homemade Tortellini. Every year about 4,000 guests attend this spectacular must-see festival celebrated with an elegant dinner on the Visconteo Bridge crossing the Mincio River.
Since 1993 the love knot festival or Festa del nodo d’amore takes place every year on the third Tuesday of the month of June. Guests are seated along two tables of about 600 meters, for nearly 4,000 guests on the Visconteo Bridge of Borghetto-sul-Mincio, which is said to be one of the most romantic villages in Italy. It is called the undiscovered Italy because it doesn’t appear in the usual travel magazines. Guests come from all over Italy as well as from other countries to taste the famous “Tortellini di Valeggio” poetically called “Love Knot”.
The festival officially starts with a parade of medieval costumed extras, to recall the protagonists of the legend, which the festival was named after. Each year over 600,000 tortellini are handmade one by one by100 voluntary cooks. It takes about 500 kg of grana padano, 10,000 eggs and 8 tons of flour to make the tortellini. In addition, 3,750 bottles of wine Bianco di Custoza are served to accompany the dishes and 850 bottles of sparkling wine (Prosecco) to offer guests an aperitif that kicks off the evening. In addition to the tortellini other entrees like fish or meat dishes are being served and a dessert, of course. Around 11pm a huge display of fireworks is on the program, too. It takes place right over the Scaligeri castle situated high up on a hill.
Needless to say, you need a reservation and tickets. Due to its popularity tickets are generally sold out weeks if not months in advance.
In case of rain, the arrangers reserve the right to cancel the dinner or have it take place in the respective restaurants participating in this spectacular event. Tickets are not refundable.
The temperature can be very hot, though. When I attended this festival in June 2012, it was brutally hot that day, around 98 F and it did not cool off much in the evening either. We arrived around 8 pm, the official start was 8:30pm. Visitors should protect themselves against mosquitos, this being in hot weather and near water because the bridge on which this dinner event takes place crosses the Mincio River.
I was amazed how perfect this spectacular dinner was set up and how everything worked like clockwork considering that there are about 4,000 guests to be served. The food was out of this world delicious. The staff was excellent and the service impeccable from the moment it started. You can eat and drink as much as you want for about 70 Euros, the cost of the ticket. Your seat assignment is the number on your ticket.
The legend of the “love knots”, that’s how the tortellini are called in Italian, is that towards the end of the 14th century the troops led by the Milan Commander Giangaleazzo Visconti were fighting against the Mantuans. When they settled down at the Mincio River they were told that beautiful nymphs were living in the river who would come out occasionally and dance at the riverbanks. However, there was a spell/curse on them, which forced them to appear as ugly witches. One night, the young Captain Malco saw the mysterious creatures actually dance. When he approached them they quickly disappeared into the water, except for one. The Captain discovered a beautiful nymph under the ugly witches coat. They both fell madly in love and swore eternal loyalty to each other. However, Silvia, the nymph had to return into the river before dawn. As a token of her love, she gave Malco a handkerchief with a delicate knot. The love they had for each other did not remain a secret though and a jealous Lady in waiting denounced the beautiful Silvia a witch. Silvia saw only one chance for their love namely that Malco had to follow her into the underwater world. Without hesitation, he followed her into the water and left the golden handkerchief with the knot at the riverbank. Since then it is a tradition for the women in Valeggio to make these love knots, nodi d’amore /tortellini from scratch during holidays and sauté them in butter together with sage leaves.