Autumn in Tuscany

Admire not only the words, 
consider the heat of the sun, 
which becomes wine when joined to the juice of the grape.
(Dante Alighieri, la Divina Commedia)

Autumn is the harvest and hunting season in Tuscany. First there is the grape harvest, then the olives have to be picked, chestnuts collected, mushrooms and truffles searched and then it is time for hunting among others wild boars. In this period there are many local festivals or sagre which are mostly dedicated to these typical products.

Tuscany is world famous for its wine. To many tourists, Tuscany is known only as the region of the Chianti wine. However there are many other wine regions in Tuscany like the Maremma area with delicious red wines such as Morellino di Scansano or Brunello di Montalcino, or the southeastern area of Tuscany with its great Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Also worth mentioning is a tasty, crisp white wine like the Vernaccia di San Gimignano or the lesser known white wine from Pitigliano. Most of the events in Tuscany are combined with typical, local, gastronomic products, such as cold meats, cheese and other specialties.

Just like the wine, the extra vergine olive oil is a crucial part of Tuscan gastronomy. Olive oil is essential for both adults as for children. It's a source of eternal youth! In the months of October and November you’ll see people in the olive groves picking olives. Most olives are still handpicked and brought to the olive press or frantoio on a daily base. 

The freshly squeezed olive oil has a light, almost phosphorescent, green colour. The fresh extra vergine olive oil is delicious on a slice of toasted bread (crostini) with a good glass of wine.

Chestnuts are another export product of Tuscany. They are mainly harvested in October. Chestnuts are used in many traditional recipes and numerous culinary and traditional events throughout Tuscany are dedicated to this product. Areas which are known for their chestnuts, some of which even have their own type of chestnuts, are Mugello with its delicious large chestnuts, Monte Amiata, Valtiberina and Casentino. Roasted chestnuts, boiled chestnuts with fennel, castagnaccio (pastry made with chestnut flour), chestnut cake, and Monte Bianco (chestnut cake covered with whipped cream) are just some of the delicacies made with chestnuts.

In many areas in Tuscany you can find mushrooms in autumn. You can enjoy blissful walks in the mild autumn temperatures and look for mushrooms in the woods, especially porcini which are highly appreciated, delicious mushrooms with a distinctive taste. Porcini means ‘piglets’, which is a reference to the size of this mushroom type. At numerous festivals you can taste porcini mushrooms prepared in many different ways: tagliatelle with porcini, gnocchi with porcini, fried porcini or toasted bread with porcini.

Both the regions of Tuscany and Piemonte are well known for their truffles. 
In Tuscany you can find white truffles with their typical smell. The truffle is a subterranean fungus. In the area of Val d’Orcia and the Crete Senesi many local festivals are dedicated to the truffle. In the small town of San Giovanni d’Asso you find the first Truffle Museum of Italy. A visit to this museum is a truly sensory experience.

Finally the wild boar driven hunt is widespread in Tuscany. The hunting season starts on November 1st and lasts until January 31st. In restaurants and at many local festivals you can taste delicious wild boar stews, for example with polenta.

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