Chestnuts in Tuscany: a month of celebrations

From early October till the beginning of December, the Tuscan Autumn proposes many initiatives to celebrating chestnuts, especially on the mountains, where in the past times this fruit was a fundamental product for the feeding of the populations, especially those in the lower walks of life. Their importance for the survival of mountain inhabitants was so decisive that chestnuts were literally called  “the bread of the poor”, since with their flour many products such bread, biscuits and polenta were prepared.  Here’s a list with some of the most typical and characteristic events dedicated to chestnuts, that will take place in the upcoming weeks in the different mountain zone of Tuscany: 

MUGELLO  (Province of Florence )

 The Marrone (big sweet chestnut) and other fruits of the wood Festival in Palazzuolo sul Senio will take place on every Sunday of October and will be dedicated to all the products of this part of the Apennine mountains (chestnuts, marroni, mushrooms, truffles etc.). The rich programme proposes many stands with typical delicacies and handicrafts, traditional music and dances, and the possibility to personally  harvest chestnuts in the chestnut woods. 

The Chestnuts’ Festival in Marradi will be also organized on every Sunday of October with many stands for the tasting of the typical products like roasted marroni, chestnut cakes and jam, marrons glacés and many other delicacies.  A self service restaurant will be open during the Festival and will propose the tasty polenta with mushrooms, roasted meats, wines and desserts made with chestnuts.  Moreover, on October 12th, it will be possible to reach Marradi on board  the traditional steam train of the historical “Faentina railway”, that connects Florence with Emilia Romagna. The service will operate from the stations of Pistoia, Prato and Florence. On Sunday 19th the train will depart from the stations of Rimini, Cesena, Forlì and Faenza, in Emilia Romagna region. For  further information about the steam train please contact the travel agency“Antologia Viaggi” , Tel. +39  0573/367158. 

MOUNT AMIATA (Provinces of Siena and Grosseto)

The Autumn Festival in Abbadia San Salvatore will  take place in the weekends of October 10th-11th, and  17th-18th. The products of the mountain will be celebrated with stands, tastings, popular games, and traditional dances. Visitors will have the opportunity to take part in  excursions  through the woods, collect mushrooms with the assistance of an expert, and participate in a guided visit to the Mine of the village (now a Museum).

The Chestnut Feast in  Arcidosso  will be organized on October 17th-18th, 24th and 25th. Visitors will stop at the several stands along the streets of the village to taste the typical dishes and the local beer made with chestnuts. Also concerts, shows, a medieval parade and a market of handicrafts will accompany the event.

The Crastatone in Piancastagnaio is the oldest festival dedicated to chestnuts on the Mount Amiata and this year will take place from Friday, October 30th and Sunday, November 1st within the walls of the medieval Aldobrandeschi Castle. The Festival celebrates the end of the chestnuts’ harvest and the beginning of Winter . “Crastata”, that gives the name to the Festival, is the local word for the roasted chestnut, the main character of the event that will be accompanied by live music and open wine cellars for wine tastings.

VALTIBERINA (Province of Arezzo)

In the weekeds of October 17th-18th and 24th-25th, Caprese,  the native village of the Renaissance genius Michelangelo will  organize the local Chestnuts Festival in its lovely historical centre. Visitors will be able to taste and purchase chestnuts,  vin brulé, donuts, jams, polenta and the typical cake called “baldino”, of course made with chestnut flour.

CASENTINO (Province of Arezzo)

On the eastern slopes of the Pratomagno massif, many and evocative are the initiatives dedicated to chestnuts. Here’s a selection:

On Saturday October 31st and November 1st,   the lovely village of Raggiolo will celebrate the Chestnuts harvest: on Saturday, after a dinner in the central square, the night will be spent in the local chestnut mill with tales and songs  of the old times. On Sunday the programme is full of events: first,  a lunch with typical products, then in the afternoon it will be possible to visit the mill for the production of chestnut flour,  attend the market of typical products and the grinding of dried chetnuts as it was done in the past, and take part in the guided tour of the village .

– Still on Sunday, November 1st,   chestnuts and the new sweet wine will animate the small village of Talla from 2 p.m.,  with tastings of chestnuts (roasted and flambé), the typical chestnut cake called “baldino”, the new sweet wine,  and other local delicacies such as local pecorino cheese and honey.

On Saturday November 7th, the Chestnut Festival in Cetica will propose a dinner with typical products, and a night together with tales and songs  of the old times. On Sunday, November 8th, visitors can take part in the lunch with products derived from chestnuts and, in the afternoon, historical representations of the chestnuts’ drying, and tastings of wines and other delicacies.

So many events, festivals and initiatives for chestnut: from being a sort of Cinderella in the past, it has become the princess of  the Tuscan Autumn. A nice way to appreciate the fundamental role this fruit played for the survival of  many Tuscan populations.

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