Beer Festival 2009 in Cagli, Italy

by Kata J. Dora

Beer Festival and Mugs

Beer Festival and Mugs

A stroll through small town Cagli, Italy, suggests there is a strong emphasis on maintaining the old buildings amidst the new buildings. Tradition matters. For someone from the western world, it might be strange to listen to the city hall’s bell ringing every 15 minutes, followed by the ringing bells of the church. For the people in Cagli, this slow pace is absolutely normal. Once every July, the pace speeds up when the Beer Festival comes to Cagli for four days. While the younger generation enjoys the opportunity the have a big party every year, the elder generation views it with a slight shrug of the shoulder.

Franco Pazzaglia is the local bar owner of House Beer. The outside of the bar is a nice place to relax with its views of surrounding hills. Inside the bar, the left wall is flooded with the pictures of the people who have been there. On the right of the bar is a mirror, tables and bar seats. At the back of the bar, there is a small refrigerator and a beer fountain. Mugs hang from the ceiling.
As patrons enter the bar, Pazzaglia describes the importance of moving slowly as he calmly sits on the chair and glances at his son, who pours a beer for a customer. He seems reserved when he carefully notes that, “It takes 3 minutes to have a good beer. It has to have a beautiful head. You have to tap the beer, then let it settle down, then tap it more, then again settle it down, and at the third tap, the head of the beer comes up!”

The Beer Festival is a different experience. Bartenders pour beer quickly at the festival and hand it to customers. Pazzaglia frowns at this, saying the Beer Festival is “not the October Fest in Munich”.  It is merely given to the customers, resulting in Pazzaglia’s dissatisfaction of the style of beer serving.

The band Malamonroe at Beer Festival 09

The band Malamonroe at Beer Festival 09

Time moves on. Up in the Piazza, the bells ring but they can’t be heard at the Festival. The cheerful conversations combine with the background music. The music intensifies as one gets closer. In the valley where the Beer Festival is hosted, a couple of young kids run around but mostly the crowd consists of people between the age of 16 and 40. The disc jockey’s mix is heard before the live band begins.

The crowd is huge and expands by the minute. Not many people dance or sing. They stand and watch the bands play.  Milena, a local girl who serves beer at the festival, says she believes the importance of the Beer Festival is that it is “a way to stay together with other friends and young people, and to listen to live music.”

The Beer Festival is an example of an evolving tradition in Cagli, Italy.  The struggle continues between old and new traditions, and is still unknown which will eventually prevail.  The one certainty is that all generations need their traditions. Milena captures the current meaning of the tradition when she says, “we can give the young people an opportunity to stay together.”

Credits: Photo #1 by Pamela Lake, Photo #2 by Kata J. Dora

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