Autumn is chestnut gathering time in the Garfagnana. I went with Heather from Sapori-e-Saperi to visit the chestnut forest and metato (drying hut) belonging to Bruno Bertoncini in the Garfagnana, the mountain area near Bagni di Lucca.
Bruno’s chestnut forest is beautiful, and it shows what the cultivated chestnut forest looked like. These days they are mostly wild and not cleared as they used to be. Obviously if the trees are cared for they will give better chestnuts.
It has been a difficult growing season this year. Some of Bruno’s trees have blossomed 3 times instead of just once, as they should.
This tree has new growth and flowers at a time when the fruit should be ripe….strange.
There are many types of chestnuts, some are better for flour, some have better keeping qualities and some are good for roasting.
Before chestnuts can be ground to make flour they need to be dried. Bruno has a gorgeous metato which was busy drying chestnuts when we arrived. The nuts are dried for about 40 days. The fire has to be kept burning at just the right temperature for all this time.
The fire burns on the ground floor of the hut and the chestnuts are above the fire on a slatted floor.
The delightful Bruno told us lots of interesting things about chestnuts. He is a man who clearly enjoys his work.
The trees are pruned regularly. Here is a tree which has been pruned and has regrown.
I think Bruno has a delightful office. I’m sure the work is not easy, but imagine going to work here each day.
Bruno has a wonderful agriturismo called Collettino, near his chestnut forest where guests can stay in comfort and immerse themselves in this beautiful area.
And now for a few more chestnut photos.