This celebration of Italian celebrations, or feste, by the author of the highly regarded The Italian Baker (1985), is part cultural/folkloric/gastonomic travelogue, part cookbook composed of recipes scaled down from the massive quantities of special foods prepared for the occasions. Whether the festivals are religious or political, rural celebrations of nature or urban civic functions, Field focuses here on those that center on food--which comes, at festa time, in gigantic amounts (e.g., a two-ton cake being consumed in commemoration of a local count's 12th-century marriage) and carries with it all sorts of mystical significance. She proceeds through the year, from an early May snake festival (serpents are paraded through the streets, and villagers devour snake-shaped spicy cakes) through a Roman Christmas holiday ("a barely disguised eating orgy") to a Sicilian Easter with its simple durum bread and special pastries. Along the way are both events and dishes of staggering proportion and rich associations, set forth with authority and passion to entertaining and inspiring effect. A delightful browse, a serious cookbook, a traveler's bonanza, and a valuable library resource.