A great thing about Tuscany is that it stays warm and sunny until pretty late October. Even better are all the events taking place in this very special season called autumn. It’s traditionally filled with scrumptious delicacies like truffles, chestnuts and mushrooms and, of course, there is loads of wine to pour it all down with. Let’s find out what’s on this month and cin, cin to October!
Before the feasting starts, you might want to check out the famous yearly Antiques Market in Arezzo on 4 and 5 October. It takes places in Piazza Grande and throughout the city centre of this beautiful city. Also stop by Panzano in Chianti for its Mercato Aprilante, which is held every first Sunday of the month – this month it’s the 5th. You can browse through the antiques stands and see local artisans exhibit their wares, while local producers offer honey, cheeses, salumi and many other delicious local treats on the more than 100 tables in the streets of the small village.
Then, every second Sunday of the month Tavarnelle si mette in mostra, ‘Tavernelle puts itself on display’ during their very own antiques market. This time October 12 means shopping time in Tavarnelle. From October 11th to 19th, the age old Festa of San Luca is held in Impruneta, which consists of a week-long fair to celebrate the local patron. On Tuesday 14th the lovely town is livened up by the Animal fair and on Thursday 16th the Palio takes place, in which the four quarters of Impruneta will compete against each other in a traditional horse race.
Enough talk about shopping and horse races, let’s talk about food, baby! Let’s talk about you and funghi. Let’s talk about all the good things, and the sweet things that may be… Let’s talk about food in Tuscany.
First up is the yearly held Sagra del Galletto, or Festival of the Rooster, in Montalcino Camigliano. This cocky festival is organised in honour of Montalcino’s lords, which have celebrated this feast in the Camigliano Castle since the XIV century. Hundreds of roosters are grilled over hot coals on a spit doused with litres of local wine. Sounds rather appealing I’d say! (If you aren’t a vegetarian, that is.) The highlight of the day is the ‘Game of the Wheel’ (La Druzzola); a traditional game played in, of course, medieval costumes. It’s all about throwing the druzzola, a circular piece of olive wood, on a sting. This obviously requires excellent aiming skills…
Go chestnut crazy
October is chestnut time and locals head out to the special chestnut forests to collect the natural delicacies. All of a sudden, you’ll see special pans for roasting chestnuts appear everywhere in towns and you’ll be able to munch away on freshly roasted chestnuts while window shopping. It doesn’t get any more autumn than this!
The place to be when it comes to castagne is Marradi, where they hold chestnut food festivals on a yearly basis. This time you can go chestnut crazy on October 5, 12, 19 and 26th and enjoy everything that can be made out of chestnuts like ravioli, cakes, jams and marrons glacés. Street artists and musicians will be spicing up your chestnut experience in Marradi even more. The coolest thing about this festival is that you can take a special steam train to get there. It’s a very popular ride, so make sure you book well in advance. More info here (in Italian).
More chestnut tastings on the last Sunday of October in Castiglione d’Orcia during the Chestnut Festival called ‘Marrone’. In Vivo d’Orcia you can taste both mushrooms and chestnuts at the Sagra del Fungo e della Castagna. There will be a host of different competitions, medieval buffoonery and a nature walk where mushroom species are explained. Try out a range of local porcini mushroom dishes or buy them for your own home cooking pleasure.
Then, of course we shouldn’t forget to add a drop of wine to this events list. Dicomano is all about Bacchus’ favourite drink this weekend. Saturday and Sunday the traditional Autumn Fair, with local artisans and products, will make you light in your head for sure. (Don’t drink and drive, mi raccomando!) On Sunday, at 3pm, the Harvest Cart will be followed by the Renaissance parade and flag-throwers show. Forget about the parade and keep an eye on that cart; free wine is handed out by the farmers riding it! Autumn sure tastes good…
The hunt is on!
Another food festival we highly recommend is the Sagra del Tordo in Montalcino on October 29 and 30th. The opening of the hunting season is celebrated by throwing a food festival in the medieval fortress. During this ‘Festival of the Thrush’, various neighborhoods compete against each other in a crossbow competition and the crossbowmen are distracted by dances and parades of people dressed in historical costumes passing by. Fun for all the senses! Read more about it here.
Talking about hunting, from October 25th to 26th in Barberino del Mugello there is the traditional Market Fair of Black & White Truffle. The local truffle hunters will sell their black treasures together with other local products, like chestnuts. In Montaione you can also go truffle tasting, amongst many other local products, at TartuFesta held on October 19th, 25th and 26th.
Enjoy the ride
We already mentioned the steam train before talking about Marradi, but the fun doesn’t stop there! You can go ‘Tasting Siena on the Nature train’ enjoying a ride on this vintage train combined with special food fairs all over Tuscany from September 28 to December 8. Read more about it here and check out the programme here. Buon viaggio e buon appetito!