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Tortellini, those lovely little knots of filled pasta that are oh-so delicious and easy-to-crave, are a celebrated food throughout Italy, the US and other countries as well. However nowhere else will you find the magic ingredient that goes into these knotted pillows of deliciousness than you find in Italy. And nowhere else on earth celebrates this ubiquitous Italian treat like they do in Valeggio.

Once a year the village of Valeggio, in the Veneto region of Italy, hosts a staggering 4000-6000 visitors. Not only are these visitors eager to enjoy the famous pasta for which Valeggio is recognized but they are there to join in the festival that is all things Tortellini!

A Tortellini Legend of Love

While lavish mansions, lush gardens and medieval architecture are something to see, the real star of Valeggio and Borghetto would be the tasty tortellini. And the luscious pasta of Valeggio, in true Italian style, is accompanied by a beautiful story. The legend of Valeggio’s tortellini is one of love and devotion.

The story dates back to the 1300s when Malco, a captain in the Visconte army, fell in love with the beautiful nymph Silvia from the river Mincio. One night Malco recognized his beloved Silvia at a festive celebration where he saw her dancing. Isabella, a thwarted admirer of Malco, decided to reveal Silvia to the authorities in a jealous fit.

As the mystical nymphs were forbidden to hob-knob with the people of Valeggio, Silvia was detained in a cell. Malco helped his true love escape the confines of jail but was then arrested himself. One night when Silvia visited her inamorato she begged him to renounce his human life and join her in her world. He agreed and the two lovers fled to the depths of the river where they were free to celebrate their union. As a symbol of their undying devotion they left a golden kerchief tied in a lover’s knot.

To honor and commemorate the love of Malco and his Silvia the people of Valeggio create tortellini in a special way and celebrate annually at the Knot of Love festival.

A Celebration of The Delicious Kind

Foodies and pasta aficionados alike wait all year for Valeggio’s tortellini celebration. The tortellini of Valeggio are unique, delicious and a memorable delight for the palate. Valeggio’s traditional tortellini are filled with a mixture of beef, pork, chicken, carrots, celery, rosemary cooked together then ground and combined with some Bardolino wine and soft breadcrumbs. The ingredients are then encased in an eggy golden pasta and formed into the iconic shape that mimics the lover’s knot.

The festival celebrating Valeggio’s outstanding tortellini takes place on June 18th around and on the Ponte Visconteo, or Visconti Bridge. Festival goers will dine on the famous tortellini while seated at one of two sections of tables measuring an unbelievable 2,000 feet each. The tables span the bridge overlooking the idyllic Borghetto as wisteria blooms cascade along the shore of the Mincio River.

The Love Knot festivities kick off with a parade of costumed medieval characters who joyfully re-enact the legend for which the event is named. More than half a million tortellini, handmade one by one, are prepared for the festival. Most are filled with the traditional filling but there are other varieties as well, including cheese and vegetables.

The event is organized by the Valeggio Restaurant Association and requires the service of over 300 waitstaff, 100 cooks and, as the regional wines are thoroughly enjoyed alongside the tortellini, at least that many sommeliers. The Association personally selects the ingredients for the tortellini. There is a strong agricultural presence in the area, thank goodness!

The festival wraps up with a brilliant fireworks display from high atop the hill where Scaliger Castle resides. As the sky lights up and the satiated festival goers begin to wind down Malco and Silvia are surely looking on from somewhere along the river’s banks with love and pride.

We’d love to give you the recipe for Valeggio’s famous love-knot pasta but we would rather you visit Veneto and enjoy it for yourself!