The first fall rain showers have begun redefining weekends, and we lazy Italians have officially entered blanket-on-sofa territory, blessing Autumn weekends with hot beverages and full season series binge-watching.
There are however a number of us weather-sensitive folks who can’t give up on a good sagra, or food festival. If you’re the kind that prefers spending Sundays hunting down truffle fairs, mortadella mixers, roasted chestnut festivals and harvest gatherings… Read on for our list of October food festivals in Italy.
Let’s begin with the precious Tuber Magnatum Pico, or tartufo bianco, aka white truffle. Last year’s quote was €250 per 20 grams. This year, you can sniff, taste and (if you can afford it) buy some white truffle in the following town festivals:
- Alba (in the Cuneo province of Piedmont) October 10 – November 15 hosts the 85th annual Alba White Truffle Fair, whose opener is always a traditional donkey race!
- Moncalvo (in the Asti province) October 18 and 25 at the Fiera del Tartufo di Moncalvo.
- S. Angelo in Vado (in the province of Pesaro-Urbino of Le Marche) every weekend between October 10th and November 1st.
- Bologna hosts Tartufesta on October 3, 4 and 11.
- Dovandola (in the Forlì-Cesena province of Emilia Romagna) welcomes truffle-lovers between October 18 and 25 at 48th annual Sagra del Tartufo, during which participants can savor tagliatelle hand-stretched and served in the streets by local women hailing from surrounding hilltop towns. Given the 3,000 eggs for the pasta and 3 tons of white truffle dressing, there will be enough for everyone!
I can’t imagine Autumn without the aroma of roasting chestnuts. Get your fill of the magnificent local castagne at the following fairs:
- In Soriano del Cimino (in the Viterbo province in Lazio) between Oct. 1 and 18, it will be raining chestnuts every weekend during Sagra delle Castagne, with large roasting pans in the squares and alleys of the medieval town, complete with jousting events, flag-throwing and costume parades.
- Every Sunday in October (4, 11, 18 and 25) in Filetto, in the Villafranca in Lunigiana town of Tuscany, Castagnata will feature chestnuts and delicious recipes made with chestnut flour, like necci (a thin crepe baked on a stone slab called “testo”) smeared with ricotta, served on a chestnut leaf.
- In Cuneo, October 16 to 18 Fiera Nazionale del Marrone will showcase the best Piedmontese chestnuts, prime ingredient for delicious and decadent marron glacées (candied chestnuts).
If you get excited about harvest season like we do, then you should definitely partake in one the many activities connected to this bountiful time of year.
- A good place to start is the Ottobrata, held in the Etna city of Zafferana, where grapes are celebrated with annual “Sagra dell’Uva” on October 4, that organizes concerts, open-air kitchens serving dishes made with grapes and of course, wine tasting!
- Sagra dell’Uva in Marino is a yearly appointment with the wines and grapes of the Castelli area of the Lazio region, during which the town’s fountains spill wine! This year it will be held October 4 and 5.
- In Sannicandro di Bari, in the region of Puglia, the olive harvest is celebrated with Sagra delle Olive, held October 9, 10, 11. Each of the festival days, participants have the opportunity to taste typical products like brined olives, delightful bread and focaccia, sun dried tomatoes preserved in olive oil and sublime quality extra virgin olive oil.
Are you a cured pork fan like us? Then you can’t miss these charcuterie celebrations:
- Bologna showcases its precious pink mortadella at MortadellaBo’ between Oct. 15 and 18.
- Santa Maddalena in the Alpine Bolzano province of South Tyrol honors its representative cured product at Festa dello Speck on October 3 and 4, be sure to participate for your slices of smoked goodness.
Eleonora Baldwin is a TV host, journalist, and culinary connoisseur based in Rome, Italy. Her writing appears in several food and travel publications. Her show “ABCheese” is broadcast on Italian food network Gambero Rosso. She loves guiding culturally curious, food-passionate travellers seeking experiences in Italy beyond the guidebook.