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  • Dolci Festa della Castagna

Arcidosso’s Festa della Castagna

Date: October 28, 2015 - categories: , , , , - 8 Comments

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.

Arcidosso, where chestnuts reign in late October

Arcidosso, where chestnuts reign in late October

Chestnuts whirl on huge rotating bins manned by arcidossini

Chestnuts whirl on huge rotating bins manned by arcidossini

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A white paper bag of roasted chestnuts to much as you stroll along

A white paper bag of roasted chestnuts to much as you stroll along

A happy customer with chestnuts for roasting at home

A happy customer with chestnuts for roasting at home

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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.

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At many stands, chestnuts entice in the culinary treats sold

At many stands, chestnuts entice in the culinary treats sold

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.

In bakeries all over Arcidosso, chestnut star

In bakeries all over Arcidosso, chestnut star

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Local women create chestnut temptations

Local women create chestnut temptations

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typical-dessert

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.

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The medieval cellars all over town fill up with locals and visitors ready to enjoy the goodness

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Enjoying the goodness at the Arcidosso festival..

Enjoying the goodness at the Arcidosso festival..

Local volunteers cook up tasty dishes

Local volunteers cook up tasty dishes

All over Arcidosso, friends and families gather to feast at this festival

All over Arcidosso, friends and families gather to feast at this festival

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.

local-people-selfie

Ski school parents and children team to cook and serve in their medieval cellar

Starting off our dinner with pasta all’amatriciana

Starting off our dinner with pasta all’amatriciana.

Pasta all’amatriciana

Pasta all’amatriciana.

Greta serves up wild boar for Pino

Greta serves up wild boar for Pino

Pino finds the wild boar buonissimo

Pino finds the wild boar “buonissimo!”

Albachiara brings us a chestnut cream dessert

Albachiara brings us a chestnut cream dessert

Chestnut cream dessert - heavenly!

Chestnut cream dessert – heavenly!

Asia

Little Asia proudly shows us her skiing photo taped to the medieval cellar wall

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

8 Comments

  • Judy Thomas says:

    I love chestnuts! How creative these cooks are and the setting is so beautiful! I need to just move there…….

  • joan slavin says:

    this town and festival look amazing….i never think of chestnuts in desserts!! wish i could have been there with you!

  • Anne Robichaud says:

    Judy, Joan, a not-to-miss festival..but then again, there must be hundreds (no thousands!) of don’t-miss-in-Italy events!

  • Oh my goodness – mouthwatering! I can smell them roasting, hear the shells cracking … The taste of autumn.

    Another of your festivals to add to my list! Thank you 🙂

  • Anne Robichaud says:

    YES, Glynis/ a gem of one!

  • Stephanie W says:

    When I spent time in Italy during Oct, remember coming across the chestnut roasters. Once again, your beautifully crafted narrative has placed my imagination in this quaint spot. I’m always so moved by the Italian way of celebrating the bounty of the earth with emphasis on family & community. And also, your description of the food & the pics, well, I hope no one saw me almost lick my screen! Thank you, Annie!!

  • Janet Eidem says:

    The aroma of the roasting chestnuts manifests itself in your telling of the story. What joy there is on the faces of those celebrating at the festival. Thanks for another beautiful chapter in what it is to live in Umbria, Annie.

  • Anne Robichaud says:

    Janet, mille grazie for your warm warm comment – and Steph, loved and appreciated your note, too!

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