Bruno’s chestnuts

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The fire burns on the ground floor of the hut and the chestnuts are above the fire on a slatted floor.

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The delightful Bruno told us lots of interesting things about chestnuts. He is a man who clearly enjoys his work.

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The trees are pruned regularly. Here is a tree which has been pruned and has regrown.

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I think Bruno has a delightful office. I’m sure the work is not easy, but imagine going to work here each day.

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Bruno has a wonderful agriturismo called Collettino, near his chestnut forest where guests can stay in comfort and immerse themselves in this beautiful area.

www.collettino.it

www.sapori-e-saperi.com

And now for a few more chestnut photos.

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Pomegranates

Baby pomegranates were growing when I first arrived in Italy in September and now they are ready to eat…..another reason to love autumn.

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Pomegranates are rich in vitamin C, vitamin B5, potassium and fibre (if you eat the seeds) and are the latest so called, super food.

You could drink the juice, or use the seeds in salads, knowing that it is doing you good, or you could do these things just because pomegranates are delicious.

LOCAL NEWS

There is to be a live nativity in Monti di Villa at 3.00pm on December 9. It will commence at the church in Monti di Villa and move through the streets of the village. It will be followed with food and drinks…….I wish I was going.

There is to be a bus taking people from La Villa. Please check for details at the information centre in La Villa.

Changing seasons

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One of the things I love the best about Bagni di Lucca is the obvious change in the seasons. I come from a sub tropical climate where there is not a lot of difference.

There is a view that I have been photographing for a year to document the lovely changes.

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I like all the seasons ( except when it gets really hot in summer ). Autumn is particularly lovely in Bagni di Lucca…..and it is about to start.

Summer fruits on the way

The blossoms are gone from the fruit trees and the tiny fruit has appeared. Soon we will be eating some delicious summer fruits and berries.

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Tiny, perfectly formed pears.

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Baby cherries.

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Peaches?

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Plums?

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Figs….my favourite.

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Gooseberries.

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Don’t know.

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Raspberries?

And let’s not forget the grapes.

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I hope I get to try some before I have to go home.