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.
It is always good to stop at the little church beside the road on the way down the mountain.
By now the leaves will probably be gone and the scene will be wintery. That is wonderful too.
It has been a good year for chestnuts this year. Try some delicious chestnut pancakes in Montefegatesi on Sunday.
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.
Here is one I enjoyed at the chestnut festival in Lucchio last year.
It took me a while to acquire a taste for necci, but I now find them delicious.
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.
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.
At the end of winter I visited the enchanted chestnut forest on the outskirts of Montefegatesi. See the post HERE. It looked stunning even then and I couldn’t wait to return in spring to see it green and lush.
The road into forest is delightful in spring with wild flowers lining the road.
There are a few reminders of the days when chestnuts were farmed seriously. It must have been a hard life, but the beautiful workplace would have helped the workers get through the day.
The trees are the stars on this drive, or even better, walk.
I’m sure the forest is a cool sanctuary in the heat of the summer.
I look forward to my autumn visit when I return later this year.
It is always sad news when there are closures in the villages of Bagni di Lucca. The wonderful bar in Montefegatesi closed recently but the residents didn’t take long to fix the situation.
A bar is an important part of these small villages. It is not just a place to have coffee or an aperitivo, it is a place to meet friends, exchange news, have some fun and be part of a community. It is certainly where I met people who became friends and got to know about Bagni di Lucca life when I first came to the area 15 years ago.
The local Circolo in Montefegatesi has been renovated and now houses a brand new bar, which opened recently.
Top marks to the people of Montefegatesi for taking matters into their own hands and congratulations on the excellent new bar.
Thank you Lizzy Ashard for providing the photos of the new bar.
If you drive, or walk, past Montefegatesi on the way to Orrido di Botri you will find yourself in another world. Ancient forests of chestnut, oak and beech trees shrouded in mist seem from another time and place. It wouldn’t have surprised me if a goblin had dashed out from a hollow tree.
There are the remains of stone metati, chestnut drying huts, unused for decades.
If only the trees could talk and share their stories of the people who once lived and worked here, hard lives, but at times it must have been a beautiful place to work.
I think the trees look beautiful on a cold winter day, but I will be back in spring to see them again when the green leaves appear.
“The Beast from the East” is certainly making its presence felt in Bagni di Lucca. It was below zero on my balcony at Ponte a Serraglio this morning.
We don’t have deep snow like Rome. There were a few flurries the other day and fierce wind, but no snow on the ground.
After being shut in the house for a couple of days I decided to drive up to Montefegatesi, the highest of the Bagni di Lucca villages at around 840 metres above sea level, in the hope if finding some snow. Apart from a few patches of snow in shaded areas the village was clear. The temperature was -7!
Montefegatesi looks wonderful whatever the weather. Here it is with its winter coat.
There was little snow, but lots of frozen puddles.
The surrounding mountains are covered with snow.
I visited when I was here in autumn, a beautiful season in Montefegatesi.
Soon it will be spring and everything will look different again.