Tuscan Fall harvest festivals are a wonderful way to explore the charming towns around Florence, Pisa and Siena and experience the local culture and cuisine first-hand. Numerous traditional festivals celebrate the local crops –
Truffles, Porcini mushrooms, chestnuts, figs and specialty onions – as well as cheese & honey. After indulging your palate and participating in the festivities, you can explore these medieval towns and embrace the beauty of Tuscany, off the beaten path.
Needless to say, there is plenty of extraordinary local wine to go with it all!
(At the end of the post you can click on an interactive map of the Tuscan Fall harvest festivals to help plan your visit .)
PORCINI MUSHROOM FESTIVAL – PIEVESCOLA
The quaint town of Pievescola, a 35 minute drive west of Siena, hosts a festival during the first two weeks of September celebrating the delicious Porcini mushroom which is abundant in this area. This festival includes culinary creations highlighting the aromatic mushrooms, wines from the local vineyards, music and dancing.
NATIONAL WHITE TRUFFLE FAIR – SAN MINIATO (PISA)
San Miniato, midway between Florence and Pisa, hosts the internationally acclaimed National White Truffle Fair during the last three weekends of November. In addition to celebrating delectable truffles, stalls with a wide range of Tuscan products are offered for sale by the local merchants and farmers.
Several other local towns in the province of Pisa also celebrate the illustrious truffle in their annual fairs:
- Balconevisi – Mushroom and Truffle fair usually held during the third week of October.
- Corazzano – White Truffle Fair – First weekend of October
- Forcoli, Palaia – White Truffle Fair – Fourth weekend of September
- La Serra – Sagra del Tartufo Bianco di La Serra – Last weekend of September
- Palaia – Chestnut, White Truffle and New Wine Festival – Last Sunday of October
- Volterra – White Truffle Fair – Last weekend of October and first weekend of November
CHESTNUT FESTIVAL – CRASTATONE – PIANCASTAGNIO
The celebration of the Chestnut in this quaint town, 90 minutes south of Siena, is the oldest celebration of its kind in the area. The weekend is full of the chestnut prepared in various forms – roasted, boiled with fennel, dried, made into polenta and cakes. The streets come alive with the works of local artisans, the fine aromas of new wines and gastronomy from the many restaurants in the old square. This Festival occurs on the weekend closest to November 1st (Last Sunday of October) in the historic town center.
HONEY WEEK – MONTALCINO
If the amazing Brunello wines of Montalcino were not enough of a reason to visit this town just 48 minutes south of Siena, during the second weekend of September they host “La Settimana del Miele,” or “Honey Week.” In the Fortezza (the Fortress Square) dozens of honey producers, honey-making equipment vendors as well as honey-specializing journalists swarm together to celebrate all things honey, especially Italy’s 51 official types of honey. Honey tastings area available daily, as are guided visits to some local honey producers. The distinguished “Roberto Franci” award is presented to the best honey produced domestically and internationally.
CHEESE FESTIVAL – PIENZA
On the first Sunday in September, the hilltop town of Pienza, one hour south of Siena, hosts its traditional cheese festival. This is one of the best known towns for Pecorino cheese and the city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the events includes a traditional game of “Cacio al Fuso” (cheese rolling) whereby the contestants try to roll the hard wheel of cheese as close as possible to the pin in the center of a 500-year-old marble ring. The six districts of the town compete for the prize and the winner represents their “Contrada” at the evening’s dance in the main town square. Plentiful options of cheese tastings are available during this fair, as well as delectable dining in the local restaurants.
FIG FESTIVAL – BACCHERETO
In the town of Bacchereto, they celebrate the fruits of the land in the annual “Sagra del fico” (Fig Festival) during the first two weekends of September. Within one hour drive from Florence, this medieval town shares a different fig dish every day of the festival showcasing this area’s highly acclaimed fruit. As you stroll through the medieval town, you can visit the home of Leonardo da Vinci’s grandmother as well as the central church.
CERTALDO ONION FAIR – CERTALDO
Another one of the Tuscan Fall harvest festivals occurs in Certaldo, a town 50 minutes southwest of Florence. Celebrating the local delicacy, “Cipolla di Certaldo” (the Certaldo Onion), this town hosts an annual fair in which you can sample the locals’ secret recipes in savoring these special onions.
“Visiting Certaldo is not only a stroll along the medieval village and buildings, but also popping in one of the local restaurants and taste a local, onion-based dish. The most famous is the onion soup, a steaming hot dish made up of bread, vegetables and onion which is amongst the milestones of Tuscan cuisine.
The local marmellata di cipolle – onion jam – is to be tasted while here. It is a bitter-sweet jam which pairs perfectly with cheese, boiled meats and pork. Noteworthy is also the onion-flavoured salami, produced by the local company Gelli Salumi.” (Source: http://tuscany.hotelcertaldo.it)
This area is so well known for its delicious onions that in the 12th century the local lords had it added to the town’s coat of arms. The town motto is in reference to the onion and can be loosely translated as “by nature I am both strong and sweet, and I please those at work and those at rest.”
Map of Tuscan Fall Harvest Festivals
You can locate the Tuscan Fall Harvest Festivals described above on this interactive map. Click on the location icon for festival dates and further information about the charming historic towns.
((Photo Credit: Wall_Food_10323 by Michael Stern is licensed under CC by CC BY-SA 2.0) )