This festival is dedicated to “municeddha”, a snail that is a typical food of Salento, and takes place in Cannole from the 10th to the 13th of August. Cannole, a small town 35 km south-east of Lecce, plays host to the festival because its inhabitants have a long tradition of “cuzzari”, municeddha pickers. Among the many festival dedicated to food in Salento, this is one of the best organized. It took place for the first time in 1985 and since then it has grown bigger and bigger: now there are about 250 people working at the festival.
We need now to say a few words about municeddha, the main attraction of the festival. Municeddha’s scientific name is Helix (Cantareus) aperta and it is native to Europe primarily near the Mediterranean Sea. But why is it called municeddha, “little nun”, in salento dialect? This snail cannot bear Mediterranean hot and dry summer and enters dormancy in June. During dormancy it builds a white convex closing membrane, which is the reason of its name “municeddha”: this white membrane looked like a little nun’s bonnet to ancient people.
If you have never eaten snails, municeddhe may not look delicious to you when you see them in your plate. But if you get past their ugly appearance and slimy surface, you may become addicted! It’s that kind of food that you hate or love, but it is always worth a try.
At the Festa della municeddha you can eat municeddha cooked in three ways: with tomato sauce, with laurel and white wine, and simply roasted. The food stands are well furnished and well organized: if you are tired of municeddhe you can find peperonata (stewed peppers), various bakery products, fried eggplants and peppers in Salento style, pittule and other local dishes. For those who like strong flavors, we recommend “pane con alici e ricotta forte”, local bread with anchovies and “ricotta forte”, a local soured cream cheese, a bit stinky, strong and pungent.
Close to the food stands and tables there is a big stage where various artists play Salento traditional music and other genres of music. While eating you can enjoy the music and then try local dance. Every day of the festival, concerts begin around 9:30 pm and many people will reach Cannole at that time. If you want to avoid long lines at food stands you better reach Cannole before 8:30 pm.