Heather Jarman, a local who knows everything there is to know about food and festivals in the Bagni di Lucca area, took me to the Chestnut Festival in Lupinaia on Sunday. It was a glorious autumn day, perfect for a day in the mountains.
We drove to the lower car park and took the shuttle bus to the village. We had considered (briefly) walking to the top, but thought better of it. Just as well, the signs said 3 kilometres, but the signs lied. It had to be at least 5 kilometres, all uphill.
The festival was well underway when we arrived. There were long queues at the food tents so we headed off to see what else was happening in the village.
There were lots of food stands selling the local products of the area. With my resident food expert at my side I was able to make all the right choices. She directed me to a hand milled local grain for polenta. Apparently the red polenta is the best of all.
We also got to meet the grower and grinder.
The nearby stand sold some very good sausages and salami.
We walked on up the hill through the village.
There were food stalls set up on balconies.
We walked past a very large woodpile. It gets cold up there in winter.
We finally arrived at the scene of the chestnut roasting action.
These were the best chestnuts I have ever eaten. They were cooked to perfection and were plump and delicious.
There was a man demonstrating the shelling of chestnuts with a very interesting contraption.
The chestnuts go in at the top, it swings into action.
We made our way back down through the village towards the food and we passed a lovely old gentleman demonstrating basket making with willow branches.
Further on there was a very pretty young girl making pasta.
Then it was lunch time.
An owl watched from above.
We walked back to the car along an old mule track. It was much quicker than following the winding road and I am so used to carrying large bundles, I thought a mule track was most appropriate. Fortunately Heather knew the way. Late afternoon on the mule track was wonderful.
If you have the chance to attend a local festival in Italy, please do. Each one is a bit different and they all have something wonderful to offer. Heather knows about all the festivals in the Bagni di Lucca area. There will be more on her later.
Heather also took me to visit Marzia, who makes cheese. Click here to come along with us.
Take a look at Heather’s website for more information on her tours. http://www.sapori-e-saperi.com