Autumn in the chestnut forest

Just before I left Italy in early November I drove up to Montefegatesi hoping to see some autumn colour in the forest just outside the village. I was a bit early, but I could see the changes.

Montefegatesi

Montefegatesi

Montefegatesi

Montefegatesi

Montefegatesi Mine

Montefegatesi

Montefegatesi

It is always good to stop at the little church beside the road on the way down the mountain.

Montefegatesi

By now the leaves will probably be gone and the scene will be wintery. That is wonderful too.

Necci in Montefegatesi

It has been a good year for chestnuts this year. Try some delicious chestnut pancakes in Montefegatesi on Sunday.

Montefegatesi

If you can’t make it on Sunday perhaps you could make your own necci.

You will need…

2 cups chestnut flour.

slightly less than 2 cups water

a pinch of salt

1 cup of ricotta (sweetened with a little sugar or honey if you wish)

Place the flour in a bowl with the salt. Slowly pour the water into the flour and stir with a whisk until the batter is smooth and there are no lumps.

Heat a little olive oil in a frypan and pour in a large spoonful of batter. Swirl the pan to spread the batter evenly. Cook until the bottom is golden then flip and cook the other side.

Stack the necci on a plate until all the batter is used.

Whip the ricotta and spread on the necci and roll up.

Eat.

Here is one I enjoyed at the chestnut festival in Lucchio last year.

Necci

It took me a while to acquire a taste for necci, but I now find them delicious.

Chestnut time

Chestnuts are ripening on trees all over Bagni di Lucca. I went up to the lovely chestnut forest just outside Montefegatesi hoping to see some autumn colour. The trees are still green, but the beginnings of change can be seen. Best of all some of the trees are laden with chestnuts.

Montefegatesi chestnut forest Montefegatesi chestnut forest

Montefegatesi chestnut forest

Montefegatesi chestnut forest

Autumn is the time for chestnut festivals. I have attended several of these over the years and I find them great fun.

Here are a few coming up soon in Garfagnana.

Cascio has a wonderful chestnut festival. I have been twice. This year it will be held on Sunday 7th October. This one attracts a big audience. Be early if you want to find a place in the car park. Festivities usually begin at about 11.00am.

Castiglione di Garfagnana is a gorgeous hilltop town. The chestnut festival is set for 14th October.

Trassilico will also hold its festival on 14th October. I have been to this one too and enjoyed it immensely.

Lucchio will have its chestnut festival on 21st October. I went last year and had delicious necci.

Castelnuovo’s will be held over 2 days, Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th October.

Lupinaia has a wonderful chestnut festival. I attended several years ago. This year it will be held on Sunday 11th November.

I will be back in a few weeks to see the Montefegatesi trees in their autumn colours.

Chestnuts in Lucchio

Lucchio is the village that clings to an almost vertical mountain side. At the top is La Rocca, the ruins of an old fort.

Lucchio

Lucchio

La Rocca was our first destination before seeking out the roasting chestnuts.

Lucchio

It is a steep climb to the top along a rocky path.

Lucchio

We passed an enthusiastic gardener digging his rich looking soil.

Lucchio

Onwards and upwards…

Lucchio

Lucchio

Lucchio

Lucchio

Lucchio

Lucchio

Lucchio

There are some steep steps to the very top.

Lucchio

There isn’t much of the fort left, just a few crumbling walls.

Lucchio

Lucchio

Lucchio

The views are stunning even on a misty, wet day.

Lucchio

A family found a great spot for a picnic.

Lucchio

We had lunch in the local restaurant, which had drawn a large crowd. Our 3 course lunch was delicious. I forgot to photograph the pasta course and the roast meat, but here is the antipasti.

Lucchio

The chestnuts were being roasted down by the church, so this time we headed down towards the bottom of the village. Not many people live in Lucchio these days, but the village is well loved by those who do live there. The streets are well maintained and clean. There are a few houses for sale, just in case you are looking for a quiet life with great views.

Lucchio

Lucchio

The church was open and later there was to be a concert.

Lucchio

The chestnut roasting  was well underway by the time we got there. I have acquired a taste for necci with ricotta, and this was the best I have had.

Lucchio

Lucchio

The road down offers glimpses of Lucchio through the trees.

Lucchio

Lucchio

A chestnut festival… with mushrooms

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We recently attended the chestnut festival in Castelnuovo. It was a beautiful day and we were the first on the bus to take us from the town to the fortified area above the town where chestnuts were being roasted and crowds were beginning to gather.

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We were eager to try the roasted chestnuts and the fritelle made from both regular flour and chestnut flour. A little bonus was the warm spiced wine that came with them.

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Inside the main building was a display of local mushrooms, separated into edible, edible, but they taste awful and dangerous…don’t ever eat!

Here are some of the edible ones.

These may not hurt you, but they won’t be delicious.

Don’t pick and eat anything from the next group.

It was a great display. I would never be brave enough to gather mushrooms myself. I would only go with an expert, but it was really interesting to see the collection which had been put together with much care.

There was a sculpture display as well. This one left me feeling a bit twisted.

Don’t miss these local festivals. Each one is different and lot of fun.