Words by Pat Eggleton

October is the month of the chestnut harvest and there are chestnut festivals all over Italy.
Here are some of the best:

In Treviso Province, [Veneto] there are so many chestnut festivals that you could spend the whole month going from one to another but three of the biggest are:

Festa dei Marroni

[Chestnut Festival] Combai, 8th – 31st October
This festival is unusual in that it takes place during the week as well as at weekends. From Tuesday to Sunday, from 09.00 till midnight, visitors can enjoy tastings of sweet dishes, honey and ice cream based on chestnuts whilst in the streets there will be exhibitions of almost forgotten crafts.

Combai chestnuts are produced over an area of 274 square kilometres and historically, chestnuts have always been important to the economy of the town and eleven others in Treviso Province. Medieval documents describe the soil of the area as particularly suited to the cultivation of chestnuts and the nuts are almost elliptical in shape.
More information about the Chestnut Festival in Combai.

Festa della castagna

Tarzo [Tarzo Chestnut Festival] weekends until 17th October
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings in Tarzo visitors will be able to taste chestnuts and other typical local products. The chestnuts here are again those known as “marroni di Combai.”

Mostra Mercato Marroni del Monfenara

[Market and Show of Monfenera Chestnuts] Pederobba, weekends until 31st October
On Fridays from 19.00 and Saturdays from 10.00 in the Piazza IV Novembre at Pederobba there will be a display of products from Pedemontana del Grappa. Then, from 10.00 on Saturdays there will be other food stands and, from 18.00, dance displays in the streets. On Sundays from 10.00 there will be craftspeople in the square with gastronomic stalls open from 20.30. Tastings of local products, in particular those flavoured with chestnuts, will be on offer.

From the Veneto we travel to Tuscany…..

Sagra delle Castagne

[Chestnut Festival] Marradi [Tuscany] 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st October
From Veneto let us travel to Tuscany, where, on every Sunday in October in the town of Marradi, the 47th edition of the Sagra delle Castagne will be taking place. Marradi is on the Tuscan border with Romagna, so the festival will reflect romagnolo traditions as well as Tuscan ones.

The Marradi chestnut is also famous and is said to be particularly delicious. Visitors will be able to taste it fresh, roasted and in products such as pasta, cakes, jams and formed into marrons glacés.

At lunch and dinner time the self service restaurant “Il Riccio” will offer traditional local food such as Marradi polenta, roast meats and, of course, local wines. In the streets there will be artists, musicians and attractions for children. On Saturday evenings roast chestnuts and mulled wine will be distributed.

A special steam train will connect Marradi with Florence, Bologna and Rimini for the duration of the Festival.

From Tuscany to the islands…..

Sagra delle castagne

[Chestnut Festival] Aritzo [Nuoro, Sardinia] 29th – 31st October
Aritzo is famous for the production of chestnuts and walnuts and every year, over the last weekend of October, visitors are offered chestnuts from overflowing, traditional baskets. The chestnuts can be tasted fresh, roasted, boiled or as ingredients in other dishes and, to clear your palate afterwards, why not taste “carapigna”, the local lemon sorbet? [Carapigna has its own festival in August.]

During the festival there will be art exhibitions, street theatre, processions, music and cookery demonstrations. You will also be able to taste roasted suckling pig and see displays of the traditional, handmade wooden furniture of the area.

In the following video you can watch how the "carapigna" is made:

Sagra delle Castagne e del Vino

[Chestnut and Wine Festival] Zafferana Etnea [Catania]
Sicily, 31st October

This is a great day which is the culmination of the “Ottobrata” [October Festivals] of the town of Zafferana Etnea which lies on the slopes of Etna in Sicily. There will be art exhibitions, photographic displays, street artists and an exhibition of the puppets used as models in Sicilian cart painting. In the evening there will be musical events and food tastings in the town’s main square.

Wherever you are travelling in Italy in October, it is always worth checking if there is going to be a chestnut festival near where you are staying.

Note: The Chestnut Festival in Castel del Rio [Emilia-Romagna] will take place on 10th, 17th and 24th October 2010.