Fernando Checchini, Umbrian Regional Assessor of “Agricultural Politics” (literal translation), put it this way: “Bees and honey are important for the well-being of all. Bees offer a very high quality product and are important indicators of the level of biodiversity in our territories. Without their impollination, this biodiversity would be severely undermined.” At Foligno’s autumn festival, Autunno in Piazza, the sixth Forum of Mediterranean Bee-Raising, was a key part of the section of the festival devoted to honey, Mielinumbria.
For this three-pronged early November festival celebrating Umbrian autumn goodness, stands dedicated to wild mushrooms and olive oils, too, line Foligno alleyways and palazzo courtyards, but the honey mostra-mercato (literally, “show-and-sell” fair) tent attracted the most visitors. At the first stand in the food tent, Little Elena, licking honey off a plastic spoon, was the perfect draw to her mother’s stand of honey varieties. Chestnut, eucalyptus, linden, lemon blossom, orange flower, acacia and millefiori (literally, “thousands of flowers’) are just the headliners.
At the next stand, we tasted pecorino (sheep’s milk cheese) dipped in acacia honey and then on to hazelnuts and walnuts preserved in honey. Other stands offered honey-filled dark chocolates, honeys with fruit juices, tasty fruit sauces for cheeses and meats highlighted with honeys, honey grappa, honey liqueurs, honey/hazelnut spreads, beeswax candles and even face creams and hand creams made with honey.
At the back of the tent, honey sommeliers from Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Malta, Palestine, Syria and Albania sat on wooden benches around plank tables, inhaling honey smells, licking honey off tiny spoons (slice of apples between honey tastes) as experts guided them (in Italian and Arabic) in honey-tastings. “This one offers hints of thyme..can you pick up the oregano in this one? Rosemary hints in this other one..” Who ever knew honey could be so alluring?
Read about another Umbrian fall “show-and-sell” food fair
Read about another favorite Umbrian November food festival
Click here to read about Assisi’s November olive oil celebration
Read more about chestnuts, olive oils – and truffles, too!
Read about Bevagna’s November hazelnut festival
Click here to read about the autumn woodland flavors festival in Montone
Read about a sagra near Perugia starring peperoncino