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The Flavors of Tuscany in Autumn

tartufi-san-miniato

Autumn in Tuscany is the season of aromas and flavors, a period when you can enjoy the products of the woods and the precious fruits cultivated in the countryside that make up a large part of our tables here in Tuscany and beyond.

If you’re in Tuscany in this season, you won’t have any problems in identifying which ones I’m talking about: fall products are center stage in all of the food festivals and country village festivities you’ll encounter where you’ll be able to both taste and buy them at the best prices.

What are the flavors of fall in Tuscany? Let’s discover them together!

In the woods

chestnuts
Let’s start with the woods, where in the fall we are gifted with precious fruits such as mushrooms, truffles and chestnuts.

The production and harvest of mushrooms and truffles depends on the weather, but you can be sure that the season in Tuscany always will give you the opportunity to taste these exquisite treats wherever you go.

If you love truffles, then you must absolutely go to San Miniato where every November hosts the White Truggle International Market and to San Giovanni d’Asso, in the Crete Senesi, which also hosts another festival completely dedicated to white truffles. Both are held every weekend in November, starting from the second weekend.

Walnuts, and above all, chestnuts are favorites for both adults and children alike. The areas with the largest production are Mugello (with its famous “Chestnuts of Marradi“), the Garfagnana and Amiata. Between October and November, it will be easy to find food festivals and local markets where these products are at the center of all the products offered. You’ll also be able to taste many traditional dishes prepared with chestnuts and with chestnut flour, such as necci and castagnaccio.

In the countryside

olives
Fall also brings the first tastings of the new wine, the vino novello, made with the grapes just harvested at the end of August and in September. The novello wine is perfect to taste with roasted chestnuts, a plate of various types of cheeses and salami, in which Tuscany also excels and which you can taste year round.

Between October and November, the local farms dedicate themselves to the harvest of the olives which they take directly to the local mill to create the best extra virgin olive oil in the world. If you have a chance, visit a local olive mill in this season to be able to see first hand the fascinating transformation of an olive into high quality oil.

… and finally at the table!

fettunta
What is the best way to taste autumn’s products on the table? By trying out our local traditional recipes!

For products from the woods and under, you can pretty much cook them in a variety of ways and enjoy them as simple crostini with mushrooms on top or eat up a plate full of delicious fettuccine with the delicate aroma of white truffles. Or how about just enjoying some simple but delicious roasted chestnuts called “caldarroste” in Italian? The “castagnaccio” is another delicious way to taste the favor of chestnuts, a cake make with olive oil, chestnut flour, rosemary and pine nuts.

The taste of just pressed extra virgin olive oil is best exalted on the classic “fettunta“, a simple, roasted piece of bread with some garlic rubbed on top, the new oil drizzled on top and a light dusting of salt: perfect with a plate of perfectly cooked white beans!

These are just a few examples of how the products of fall are enjoyed in Tuscany – but go ahead and try new recipes and menu ideas to impress your dinner companions!

A View on a Teaching Farm

animali della fattoria
There are those who have an innate passion from the very start, then there are those who only discover it along the way; then there are those who need to go back to their roots and the land and those who just need to live with the rhythms of nature marked by the singing of the rooster rather than those of ringing cellphones. The countryside is both relaxation as well as regeneration. An even better experience is when you can experience the beauty of the countryside as well as learn about its time through direct contact. The “teaching farm” today is a working farm estate that offers both, by opening its doors to the public to teach about its daily activities and thus offer more than just the products from the land for consumption.
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Tourism Tax being implemented across all of Tuscany

San Quirico d'Orcia, one of the towns that started collecting a tourism tax this past spring

In July 2011, Florence was the first Tuscan city to implement a tourism tax on all lodgings within the city of Florence. Since then, the rest of the province and towns across the region have been quietly implementing the tax as well. I say quietly because we were recently in San Quirico in Val d’Orcia (several great options here) and only discovered the tax upon checkout! So if we didn’t know about it, it’s likely many of our visitors also don’t know.

While it is not uncommon for tourists to have to pay a service tax in many cities across the world, this is a recent addition to the cost of visiting Tuscany and Italy you have to factor into your budget. The tax is generally completely separate from your hotel or accommodation per room/per night cost so we’re sharing what we know so you can at least know about it ahead of your check-out.

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