What’s A Sagra? A Word That Doesn’t Exist In Translation

“A sagra is not for profit,” Pier screams.


We arrived in a square with over two hundred people. There are at least 3 racks of barbequed meat, a line worming through a crowd of concert attendees swaying to the Italian music.

Parole, Parole, Parole!

“Wait – so you’re saying all these people, they don’t get paid?”

I was confused.

“No. They do it for their community – it’s their community.” There were a couple of men smoking by a small garden. They gave us papers as we stood in line, and told us about the protest some elementary schools were doing.  In another part of the square, a clown pretended this was his first time walking a tight rope. He perfectly tied the green string to a lamppost and a steel bar in the window of a church, and began to test it out with his feet, like a scared swimmer testing the temperature of water. He crossed his chest and blew a kiss to God. He lit the fire sticks in his hands, positioned his hands in a prayer motion, and put his shaking foot on the string.

Before, there had been older couples dancing liscio, spinning around in contrived circles based off of counts made a long time ago, smiling with sweaty faces and curly hair, and moving with such rhythm that I begin to become envious of their age, and their tradition.

And after the old couples, the food, the clown, the live performances, there was a young couple. The girl playing with fire while wearing glasses danced with such fluidity and freedom. They were the last ones there. He played the drums, and she felt a beat. Beside her, a man, who also played with fire, except his dance was a spectacle of agility rather than fluidity and rhythm. He was a perfectionist. Balancing sticks of fire between his own arms, he was like one of those superhero characters who can control fire with their bodies. She lifted her arms and dipped her head, contorting her shape some what like an uncontrollable stream of water. The wind rippled through her body like the instrument they bought from the Hungarian man who made them out of wood in front of them.

Runs off the tight rope onto a table, extending his top hat and smiling for a contribution of whatever change we have.

Maxamillion from Sicily asked if I was a mulatto. I lifted my own leg into the sky and stared at my anonymous reflection, black and bigger than my own body.

This was a sagra.

* A sagra is a local festival in Italy often involving food, a historical pageant and/or a sporting event. Sagras are especially prevalent during summertime, in the month of August. Plan your trips now!

Article written by Monique Hassel.

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