John Bensalhia warms up November with a choice of appetising Italian events...
This month's collection of events and festivals sees a good chunk of food and drink related festivals. With Christmas on the horizon, it's a good opportunity to get some inspiration for those all-important dinners and parties of the season. Meats, olive oils, vegetables, wines... all present and correct, along with some other great seasonal events to be enjoyed.
San Lorenzo (Trentino), 1st- 3rd November 2019
Palmo Donati. A butcher who has since gone down in San Lorenzo legend.
The reason? His creation of what's become one of the most popular kinds of Italian salami sausage. Donati was responsible for a unique take on the traditional salami by adding a notable ingredient to pork meat: the white turnip. Since its initiation in the 19th century, the Ciuìga, as it's known, has become a popular choice of salami sausage on account of its distinctive but tasty flavour.
Marking the Ciuìga, San Lorenzo holds a special festival, which occurs in the early part of November. The charming village really goes to town with this celebration, and in addition to samples of San Lorenzo's most famous salami, there are specially prepared meals and arranged dinners taking place in the local streets, courtyards and restaurants.
Plus, like all good Italian festivals, there's a wide array of entertainment, with music, kids' shows, carriage rides and street performers, to name but a few.
Palmo Donati would have been proud to know that this culinary creation would be celebrated in such fine style.
Cartoceto, Marche 3rd- 10th November 2019
Cartoceto's annual oil and olive fair has a two-fold mission.
One is to showcase Marche's wonderful culinary offerings. Cartoceto achieved DOP status for its extra virgin olive oil in 2004, and along with the region's olives, this forms the centrepiece for this much-loved event which has been a regular fixture in the Marche calendar since 1977. It's not just olives and oil that are featured in the event, which promotes a wealth of superb local foods and wines, including meats, cheeses and sweet condiments.
The other side of the coin is to promote the rich tapestry of culture that the village of Cartoceto possesses. Visitors can learn about the traditions, environment and history of the area through specially organised workshops, nature walks, tours, exhibitions and talks.
Predazzo, 11th November 2019
In the month of Guy Fawkes Night, it's apt that this month's pickings should include a bonfire event. One of the most impressive is the St Martino Bonfire, held on 11th November in Predazzo, Trento.
But why almost a week later, I hear you ask? This date ties in with the agricultural season coming to its conclusion. Bonfires would be set alight in secret around the city districts, and ever since then, bonfires would be set alight at 8pm in each district of the region in a contest to see which of the fires could reach the highest peak.
Also honouring Saint Martin, the event boasts a parade which reaches the heart of Predazzo from its original destination of the mountains. The bonfire spectacular provides a genuine party atmosphere with music, food, drink (including the seasonal fare of chestnuts and mulled wine) and of course, plenty of fiery warmth!
Avella, 15th- 17th November 2019
This month's menu of events is shaping up to provide lots of food for thought. Along comes Avella's Bread Love and Tarantella, with lots to warm the tummies on those increasingly colder nights. Food stands and tastings will occur in the streets of Avella, with special dishes prepared from quality local produce.
As a great accompaniment to the food, music will play in the background, with stages set up in Avella's town squares and at the old gates of the centre. It's a fun family event for all the weekend, with special children's areas and guided explorations of the local archaeological sites.
Asti, 22nd- 24th November 2019
Originating in the 16th century, the enduring dish of Bagna Cauda has stood the test of time. Made with garlic and anchovies, the dish runs along the lines of fondue, with hungry eaters using raw and cooked vegetables to dip into the mixture.
The Piedmontese dish is marked in style in the largest celebration of its kind. It's an event that attracts people from around the world in a collective eating session that brings together different cultures and countries from Germany to New Zealand.
This is a weekend event that packs in a lot for everyone. Children's workshops, food ingredient demonstrations and a special market that sells the pick of seasonal vegetables and oils that can be used for all good Bagna Cauda recipes.
One of the more unusual but popular aspects of this event is a flashmob called the Barbera Kiss. Midnight on Friday and Saturday sees lovers puckering up for a garlic kiss in locations such as Piazza San Secondo and Piazza Medici.
Serra de’ Conti, 22nd- 24th November 2019
As well as popular dishes, this month's food-heavy crop of festivals honours some of the key ingredients of classic Italian must-eats.
Marche's Grass Pea Festival concentrates on this healthy but tasty legume. Cholesterol-free and big on protein, fibre and minerals, the grass pea is a worthy addition to any starter or main course.
The local eateries, restaurants and bars of Serra de' Conti will put on a wide spread of superb local dishes and drinks over the long weekend. There's lots to do, see and hear, with special music performances, activities, street artists and handicraft stalls and displays keeping all the family entertained.
Verbania, 23rd November - 22nd December 2019
Christmas is coming again. Seems like no sooner had the last one finished, the next one creeps up on you without warning.
One of the big questions of the season is how to keep the children entertained. A good place to go, if you're in or around the area of Lake Maggiore, Verbania, is Fattoria del Toce, a farm that's bordered by a large scale park. If your children are fascinated by wildlife, or you're looking to educate your kids about this subject, then Fattoria del Toce is putting on a special Christmas At The Farm event.
Held on weekends over November and December, children can get to explore this wondrous environment, while learning other skills such as knitting, bread-making and building candles. Full of homespun charm, your children will be enchanted by the specially organised activities at the festive farm.
Bard, 30th November - 1st December 2019
The world of wine is far more detailed than you might think. With different flavours, fruits and tastes, there's also the matter of production conditions. Vins Extrêmes considers this aspect with respect to extreme conditions. The wines of the Vins Extrêmes event are made in high level areas – high slopes with no risk of contamination.
Wines from the Italian Alps feature heavily at this event, which showcases some classic vintages in a number of formats. There will be special guided tastings and workshops that cover traditions, food/wine combinations, and small island wines, amongst a myriad of subjects. On top of this, the event includes roundtable discussions and award presentations to the finest wines of their kind.