Have you ever wondered about the origin and the meaning of the particular symbol that accompanies Marta (and her Fanclub) in her sport-journey around the world? As a matter of fact, it fully expresses her own values: tranquility and delicacy in everyday living (both on and off the snow tracks), as well as a proud tie with her culture and identity.
Borgo San Dalmazzo, the italian town where Marta grew up and where she still lives, is in fact known since a long time for her own tradition based on snail (Helix pomatia alpina) breeding and cooking.
The consumption of this particular food is a very ancient habit, reported in Roman times (as handed down by M.T. Varro in the Rerum rusticarum and by Pliny the Elder in the Naturalis Historia) already. As far as we know, in the gallic area of northern Italy, and particularly around Pedona (ancient name of Borgo San Dalmazzo), the snails’ cooking tradition dates back exactly to the origin of the Roman settlements.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, and still along the subsequent centuries, the consumption of snails changes “target”: as it was a patrician delicacy, it becomes a poor dish to be eaten in times of economic hardship or during the Lenten period. In fact, it is said that snail is “nor meat nor fish” and therefore it reveals itself ideal for fasting, being a nourishing food. Some centuries after the Benedictine monks settled in Borgo decided to devise the expedient – still applied today by local breeders – to feed the snails (who were reared among the abbatial walls) with the aromatic herbs collected onto the mountain pastures, in order to accentuate the organoleptic and gustatory characteristics contained in the animal’s pulp.
The elevation to the maximum power of snail gastronomy is from the early twentieth century and “exploded” in the 1960s with the proliferation of initiatives to promote this activity. So far, the most important related event is, since 1569, the “Fiera Fredda” (Cold Fair), which takes place every year in Borgo, attracting a large amount of visitors.
To get more information and news about this unique tradition visit the website of the Municipality of Borgo San Dalmazzo and the “Fiera Fredda” one.