Venetian Gastronomy Festival - SAOR

On September 26, 2019, the curtain was raised on the first edition of SAOR, the Venetian gastronomy festival organized by the Municipality of Venice, through the subsidiary Vela, with the aim of focusing attention on enhancing the gastronomic cultural heritage (GCH) of the City. The SAOR event was the pilot action of the City of Venice within the Slow Food-CE project, the European project led by Slow Food where Venice is partnering with Krakow, Kecskemét, Dubrovnik and Brno.

The weekend that hosted SAOR was particularly mild and allowed an optimal development of the program, which featured more than 50 events, proposed by institutions, museums, associations, retailers, fishermen, artisans and farmers, as well as experts and artists - all meant to valorise the Venetian exceptional and unique gastronomic cultural heritage. 

The events were spread all over the Venetian territory, not only its world-famous historic centre and global tourism destination, but also the islands of the Lagoon and the mainland (Mestre and Marghera), where a large part of the population live.  

Compared to similar initiatives held in other EU cities, one of the challenges faced by SAOR was the complexity of the territory of Venice where it is more complicated for the participants moving among the different venues of the programme due to the long distances (and the water between, too!) 

It was therefore necessary to identify common values and traditions shared by the people living across the whole city in the ‘Sestieri’ (neighbourhoods) of the historical centre, the minor islands and the mainland. The City of Venice focused SAOR on the history of food, trade, spices, dinner tables and popular kitchens that could better represent the unique and authentic gastronomy of ‘la Serenissima”. Starting from the guidelines defined by the Organization, local stakeholders interested in being actively involved in the programme proposed different typology of events, as cooking shows, guided tours, museums exhibitions, conferences, visits to farms and many more, to allow Venetian citizens and visitors gather around the values ​​of tradition and local food in a new way. 

The City directly organized some important events with the collaboration of experts, professionals and artists to make the most of it. In particular the artist Daniele De Michele, well-known as “Donpasta”, designed specifically for SAOR a live show where he merged stories, music and multimedia elements to explain the Venetian gastronomic cultural heritage. He interviewed some significant testimonials during the course of a normal day between the market and the kitchen, where the memories of a still alive city emerged among pots and spoons, even though covered with a slight patina of the past.

If the main objective of SAOR is to enhance the authentic gastronomic heritage of the city, the protagonists and visitors of the first edition have confirmed their success by asking the City of Venice to organize, as the curtain fell, another edition the next year.