The town of Bra in Piedmont, famous for its Italian cheese and the Slow Food movement, is currently hosting the Slow Food Cheese Italian food festival. Autum in Italy is THE season for food festivals, so you’d best get your calendar planned.
Bra is famous for Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement and the world’s first University of Gastromic Sciences. The cheese festival sees the town’s historic centre turned into a cheese market, in a space more than 3,000 metres square.
The Italian cheese festival hosts over 160 stalls with cheeses coming from around the world to represent their country. The cheese hall hosts some of the world’s most prized cheeses, with more than 130 varieties on display. If you’re going, make sure you taste your cheese with some great Italian wine - we recommend a nebbiolo from the Langhe.
From November 1st to December 8, the Tuscany councils of Asciano, Buonconvento, Monteroni d’Arbia, Rapolano terme and San Giovanni d’Asso will be the scene for Crete d’Autunno 2008. The event is a series of meetings and shows dedicated to the truffle and the area’s wine specialities, along with trekking in Tuscany and cycle tours.
The Senesi area will be offering discounts on Tuscany accommodation, farmhouse stays and Bed and Breakfasts. Packages include a minimum stay of three nights with one night free, a 50 percent discount on the second night if staying two nights, free museum visits, and tasting of local dishes from Tuscany or restaurant discounts.
For example, three days and two nights in a farmhouse is 88 euros a person, or 116 euros for three nights. In a three star hotel, prices are around 99 euros a head for two nights, 126 euros for three nights, with a traditional dinner included.
For the Crete d’Autunno program, go to the Terre Siena site, information at Vacanze Senesi Incoming, 0577/45900, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source | terresiena.it
While on the subject of Piedmont, if you’re a food buff and love traditional, fresh produce, Italy has everything you could possibly want. Italy is a mecca for food lovers, and the Piedmont town of Alba, in the Langhe region, is currently celebrating its famous white truffle festival.
The white truffle is a gourmet treasure in Italy, and it’s quite possibly a good year for truffles. The grape harvest has suffered a little due to heavy rains early in the season, and so while the 2008 vintage might not be crash hot, it’s definitely a mushroom year.
The Fiera del Tartufo is held every year in Alba and includes a truffle market, competition, photographic exhibition and a truffle auction with proceeds going to charity.
The truffle of the year prize will be awarded on November 15, though the festival itself finishes on November 9. For more information on the truffle festival, go to the Fiera del Tartufo site (in English).
Source | Fiera del Tartufo
Photo | Flickr
October festivals in Italy in autumn, could very well include the chestnut harvest and associated festivals. We held our annual (invitation-only) chestnut festival in the Valtellina yesterday (castagnata) and I have to say it’s a good year for chestnuts.
The harvest is later this year due to late ripening, but some lovely fresh chestnuts were around for the picking, which involved a team of us fanning across the terraces above Ardenno to find the fruit. The trick to chestnut picking (or chestnut hunting) is to go equipped with bags or baskets to collect them, and gloves if you’re smart - these guys really hurt.
On having plenty to eat (as usual we exaggerated and possibly put a hole in Ardenno’s chestnut harvest), we took them back to our hillside hut for cooking. Roasted chestnuts are wonderfully sweet, though we’re undecided on whether to cut the shell slightly or not. If you don’t, it appears that despite a few explosions, they roast all the same.
After getting our fingers all black on peeling them, we matched our chestnuts with nutella or honey. Look out for chestnut cakes in Italy in fall as chestnut flour is often used to make the castagnaccio (take a look our recipe in the next few days).
Photo | Flickr
While Sicily is generally known as a destination to soak up some rays in summer, it can also be a fascinating place to visit in the low season in Italy, with harvests and plenty of October festivals to be enjoyed. Typical products from Sicily include chestnuts, mushrooms, honey, apples, pistacchios, oil, wine and carob, which invade the island in this autumn harvest period.
If you’re looking for accommodation in Sicily where you enjoy some of these Sicilian festivals, the agricultural town of Zafferana Etnea, on the slopes of Mount Etna, celebrates the Ottobrata Zafferanese - a show of typical products every Sunday from October 5 to 26 which includes tastings, music, exhibitions and cultural excursions.
This is a beautiful area of Sicily which merits a visit. Buses run between Catania and Zafferana and accommodation can be found at hotels, bed and breakfasts or agriturismi. For more information, go to the town’s website.
If you’re looking for some wine tasting not far from Milan this week, you could try the open cellars event in Morbegno, in the Valtellina. About 30 minutes north of Colico, on Lake Como, Morbegno will open its cellar doors to wine tastings of nebbiolo from the Valtellina region.
Various wine tours can be completed, including the green and yellow course which involve the visit to 11 cellar doors and tastings of DOC, DOCG and IGT nebbiolo wines, along with local products such as cheese and bresaola. The cost is 12 euros.
If you want a step up from that, the red course costs 20 euros and involves tasting of the best wines from the Valtellina, including Reserves and Sforzati, served by sommeliers from the Italian Sommeliers Association.
The event closes this weekend, with cellar visits open from 8pm to 11pm on Friday, 4pm to 11:30pm on Saturday and 2pm until 10:30 pm on Sunday. For more information go to the Valtellina website.
Photo | Flickr
We had already indicated the Eurochocolate festival in our initial post on October festivals in Italy, and autumn events. From Saturday 18 October to Saturday 25 October the Umbrian capital will host the mega-chocolate festival called Eurochocolate.
The program has many events and the brands hosted include Novi, Lindt, Cameo, Nestlé, Toblerone, Milka and others. If you’re interested in checking out the festival, it’s probably best to go during the week, avoiding the weekends, and seel alternative transport options like the train.
The highlight of the chocolate festival is the chocolate sculptures, with blocks of chocolate being sculptured in the streets by various artists. Onlookers content themselves with the chocolate flakes that fly off, some people even picking them up off the street (no comment on the quality of this chocolate).
If you want to avoid crowds and the commercial nature of this event, visiting Perugia at another time still gives you the opportunity of a chocolate experience. You can visit chocolate making facilities, the Perugina chocolate museum (where you can buy chocolate products and Baci Perugina), an antique chocolate gelateria exists (in front of Perugia’s Università per stranieri) and at the moment you can even stop at the exhibition Da Corot a Picasso. All without the crowds and people who will eat chocolate off the pavement.
Photo | Flickr
We weren’t kidding when we said October festivals in Italy were numerous and mostly dedicated to autumn fare, Italian harvest time and wine tastings.
In Casez, Sanzeno, in the Val di Non, Trentino there is an apple festival that celebrates the Melinda apple variety - the first to gain the D.O.P classification in Europe. The Pomaria festival is named after the goddess of orchards, Pomone.
The apple, and other ancient fruit will be on display, with Slow Food wine and cheese tastings. The main initiative is apple picking, and you can participate, taking home then what you pick.
Source | Blog Panorama
While autumn in Italy is not the greatest season in some northern areas, until it snows and it’s time for skiing, it can be a fantastic time to get to know the local products. Autumn often marks wine tasting in Italy and culinary tours, before the winter sports season begins.
In the Valtellina on the weekend, a cow festival took place at Chiareggio in the Valmalenco. Officially called the Festa dell’Alpeggio, the festival marks the return of beasts and their carers to the town areas and stables after spending summer at high altitudes. The festival involves adorning the cows with floral garlands (for photos see Flickr), with the best winning a prize, and taste testing local cheeses and milk, with lunch served by some of the local restaurants.
Other fall events in Italy include the Eurochocolate festival in Perugia - this is a not-to-be-missed festival of Baci Perugina, and other Italian chocolate goodies. It starts in October. There are also plenty of truffle festivals, perhaps the most famous being the white truffle festival, or Fiera Nazionale del Tartufo Bianco, in Piemonte.
I’ll be attending our yearly “castagnata” with friends in October, which is our chestnut roasting party. For more tips go to Go Italy, and watch this space for more news and photos on events and autumn festivals in Italy.
Photo | Flickr