Arcidosso’s Festa della Castagna
Rolling around in huge metal bins over hot coals, chestnuts pop in the night in the medieval backstreets of Arcidosso, Tuscan mountain village. When the husks slip loose on the roasted chestnuts, men shovel them into white paper bags. The locals of this Monte Amiata village line up with visitors for the roasted chestnuts at this southern Tuscany Festa della Castagna (“Festival of the Chestnuts”). Some munch the hot goodness as they stroll the festa, others buy bags full for roasting at home on wood stoves.
For the last two weekends in October (twenty-ninth edition this year), the chestnut reigns in a rich program of events during the last two October weekends. Lectures on the “noble chestnut” and book presentations on the subject draw some and the stands offering artisan crafts, food specialties of central Italy draw everyone. At many a stand, the chestnut stars: chestnut creams, cakes, pastas, flours, liqueurs at one stand, artisanal chestnut beers at another.
In the Arcidosso village bakeries, chestnut pies, cakes and pastries fill display cases and crates of chestnuts are for sale in front of the local fruit shop. At an outdoor booth, groups of local women offer their tempting homemade sweets, chestnuts the enticement in each one.
Throughout the weekend, medieval crossbowers, bands, street musicians, choral concerts animate the festival.
And as night draws in, festival visitors fill the vaulted medieval cellars to feast on wild boar, soups with chickpeas, porcini mushrooms and chestnuts, pork roast with chestnut/apple sauce and chestnut/pear flans. Local volunteers cook up the goodness, with chestnuts starring in many a dish…. but not only.
We found spots at plank tables in the cellar where parents of the children in the local ski school cook together, their eager children serving at table. Their ski teacher seats all diners and handles reservations. The ski teacher welcomes seats all diners and handles reservations. Part of the income will be contributed to the FESTA but part finances the ski school up on Monte Amiata….where snow will blanket the chestnut trees this winter, their chestnuts long harvested and savored at the October Arcidosso festival.
Read about another wondrous Umbrian festival starring chestnuts
Read about chestnut lore
Read about wondrous Santa Fiora, not far away from Arcidosso
Read about Santa Fiora’s porcini mushroom festival