Gaeta in South Lazio Italy

The Tiella and Gaeta Food Festival

The most famous typical local dish of Gaeta is La Tiella. It takes its name (in dialect) from the pan it is normally baked in.  The tiella is a sort of rustic savoury pie, a cross between a pizza and a calzone. It was designed to be easy to transport and eat, whether by fishermen at sea or peasants working the land. Indeed it was made using products from both the land and sea. The dough is made with flour, water, yeast, salt and pepper and olive oil. Typical fillings include diced squid with parsley, garlic, oil, hot pepper and a little tomato sauce for colour. Other fillings can include escarole (an endive), baccalà (salted cod), fresh or salted anchovies, cuttlefish, octopus, sautéed onion, egg, zucchini, spinach, garlic, ham and cheese.

The organisation Gaetavola regularly holds a food festival named Le Vie di Gaeta a  popular celebration of local produce, gastronomy, culture and history, with people coming from near and afar to take part. Often it is held in the charming setting of the old narrow alley of Via Indipendenza in the Porto Salvo district of Gaeta.  The participants are generally all inhabitants of the town.  This is a wonderful example of the local people coming together to keep alive their community and traditions, which they hold so dear.

There are small tables at strategic entry points to the Via with people selling vouchers.  These vouchers represent an ancient coinage of the old duchy of Gaeta known as the follaro, which are valued at about a euro or so in today’s money.  With these vouchers you can then purchase samples of the various delicacies on offer. The long street is lined with stalls serving freshly prepared local dishes. They offer the very best of the local ingredients and cuisine, for example Gaeta olives and freshly caught local seafood, cicinelli (tiny baby fish), mussels and clams, octopus salads, cod or vegetable fritters, anchovy meatballs. Of course the traditional Tiella is always very popular. Wine also flows freely to help wash down the delectable gastronomic delights.