During the fall, many Italian villages and towns hold special events to celebrate different harvests, new wines and seasonal produce. The pandemic has of course put these popular sagras, festas, fieras and mostra mercatos on hold, but they made a comeback last year and 2022 has a lot to offer. Often held in beautiful medieval settings, they usually last from a few days to several weeks and have programs packed with tastings, markets and exhibitions; some also hold lectures, competitions, concerts, street music and parades with participants in period costumes. Here’s a small selection of places to experience a range of culinary celebrations this fall.
Bardolino (Lake Garda, Veneto)
In Bardolino, you can enjoy two traveler favorites – great wine at the source and an exquisite waterfront location. There’s another reason to visit in early autumn: the Bardolino Wine Festival (September 29th to October 3rd), which toasts the annual harvest and raises a glass to local wines grown in the vineyards that extending from the eastern shore of Lake Garda. For five days, the festival offers the opportunity to taste a selection of what the region has to offer, such as the classic Bardolino, the Superiore (with a little more alcohol content), the rosé-like Chiaretto and the Chiaretto Spumante. For more tastings, you can also venture along the lake and into the countryside following Bardolino’s Strada del Vino.
On the last weekend of October (the 29th and 30th this year), Montalcino’s medieval past, known for its famous Brunello di Montalcino red wine, comes into the present when the town hosts the Sagra del Tordo (or Thrush Festival). , which pays tribute to old sports and hunting customs. (In the fall, the area is a gateway to migratory birds like thrushes.) There’s plenty of pageantry—residents come dressed in medieval garb for a special parade, and the archery competition between quarters (quartieri) is fiercely contested. Events highlighting local dishes with autumn ingredients are also in the mix. (Any time you’re in the village, try the local pinci pasta — Montalcino’s term for pici — and ribollita, a bread soup.) Of course, the Brunello flows during the festival.
San Quirico D’Orcia (Tuscany)
Famed for its views of the surrounding countryside, some of Italy’s most mesmerizing, San Quirico D’Orcia has much to offer the culinary tourist year-round, but early December has two dates to note. The Olive Oil Festival coincides with December 8th, a religious holiday, and marks the arrival of freshly pressed oil from local producers. The festival usually features lectures and cooking demonstrations, some of which take place in the 17th-century Palazzo Chigi Zondadari. Throughout the village, during the festa, you have plenty of opportunities to try the new oil, which is usually only served on baked bread as bruschetta.
After two years of aging, the award-winning local wine, Orcia Reserve, is launched on December 1st. The Orcia Wine Trail, which meanders through the town (the full route runs from Pienza to Buonconvento and ends in Abbadia San Salvatore), hosts numerous wineries producing Orcia DOC red wines, made mainly from Sangiovese grapes, and DOC white wines , made from Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes.
TRUFFLE VILLAGES AND CITIES
Alba’s International White Truffle Fair (October 8 to December 4, 2022) is world renowned for celebrating the Tuber Magnatum Pico, but there are other white truffle festivals in Italy to check out. The unspoilt medieval town of Gubbio, about 50 minutes’ drive from Perugia, is known not only for its decorative ceramics, Roman ruins and the Fontana dei Matti (Fountain of the Mad), but also for its annual truffle fair, the Mostra Mercato del Tartufo Bianco, which took place from October 29th to November 1st this year. Food stands with regional specialties, cooking demonstrations and meetings with celebrity chefs have been included in previous programs.
Pietralunga, a 30-40 minute drive from Gubbio, is also known for white truffles – and white potatoes – which is why the annual festival on the second weekend of October (October 8-9 this year) commemorates both. Restaurants offer special menus, truffle hunts are usually scheduled (more than ten percent of residents are qualified to hunt), and a variety of themed events and jazz concerts take place during the celebrations.
San Miniato (Tuscany)
The Tuscan townf San Miniato near Pisa presents its own truffle show, which will run for three consecutive weekends starting in November this year 12-13 In San Miniato, go to Piazza della Repubblica to admire the vastness of the frescoed buildings educate the Palazzo del Seminary. This hill City is also a great art destination where you can see works by LUca della Robbia, Donatello, Filippo LippMe and Verrocchio.
CELEBRATING THE BOUNTY OF FALL
Città della Pieve (Umbria)
Saffron is grown in various parts of Italy, including Città della Pieve in Umbria, where it has been cultivated since the 13th century. Zafferiamo, a celebration of many things that have saffron, takes place from October 22nd to 24th and highlights the versatility of the spice. As it was also used as a coloring agent in painting, the festival program includes workshops and demonstrations showing saffron’s use in fabrics and art, as well as its role in cooking. Restaurants offer special dishes based on saffron; Even gelaterias are doing their part and presenting saffron-flavored ice cream.
Voted one of the most beautiful villages in Italy (I Borghi più Belli d’Italia), Montone, about 40 kilometers from Perugia, celebrates the autumn harvest and seasonal delicacies with the Festa del Bosco (Forest Festival). Held from October 29th to November 1st in the historic center of the village, the Festa showcases autumnal products such as mushrooms, chestnuts and truffles with tastings, special restaurant menus and discussions that in the past deal with topics such as the culinary history of the region’s forest products have dealt with . Local handicrafts such as embroidery, ceramics and wood products are also on display during the festival.