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October 10, 2010

La Sagra – Oggi! Nuts!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Darren Hackett @ 8:04 pm

Today the 10th of October is the first of two Sundays of chestnut festivals here in Vellano.  Here they are frying the chestnut in a huge padella for a large queue of local people at the village hall.  There are hundreds of cars trailing up the hillside to this popular festival; the Sagra della Frugiata.  It is actually one of many such autumn festivals at this time of year in Tuscany.  These celebrate wine, chocolate, figs and all the local goodies.  I think half of them are probably chestnut festivals here in these hills.  The Vellano festival is 43 years old so fairly recent inovation.

The chestnut festivals are siginificant because the hills around here were part of the World War 2 ‘gothic line’ that runs the length of the appenines and were fiercly fought over during the autumn and winter of 194445.  It meant that many people in hillside villages were either cut off, or were keeping out of the path of the fighting.  Some 120000 troops died in that part of the war.  Food was therefore very scarce and chestnuts became a readily available source of sustenance.  They made chestnut flour, pancakes, bread; sweet and savoury dishes with them.  Not only that but both the nut shells and the tree wood were also a vital in keeping warm in the cold winters here.

Many locals celebrate the chestnut but significant amount of Italians, especially older Italians think they had more than enough of them in times past.

Next week we are going try chestnut pancakes – Necci and let you know about the recipe!!! Hopefully, see you then.

1 Comment »

  1. Just been sitting going back through the pictures again and loving it. I’d like you to say a little more about the view from the top of the tower Malcolm. Not least because you wouldn’t get me up it in a hundred years !
    How are you getting on with the living quarters ?
    By the way I think it says something about me that I looked at such wonderful views and only downloaded the recipes !
    Dan

    Comment by Dan — November 10, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

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