Autumn may be the most beautiful time to travel in Italy. The colors of the season, the abundance of the harvest and the beautiful weather make this time of the year one of the best to see and savor Italy.
Fall is one of the best times to travel to Italy. The brisk autumn air, the colors of the changing seasons and the passion of the local townspeople to showcase the bounty of their farms and fields makes for a rousing good time.
I like to travel in November, the height of the chestnut harvest season. From October through early November you can enjoy roasted (caldarroste) or baked, boiled and dried chestnuts in many towns and villages that celebrate autumn with special chestnut recipes and sagra fairs and festivals. Chestnut honey, chestnut cream crostata, the traditional “castagnaccio” (chestnut cake) and many other sweets (marroni glassati) are specially prepared during this time of the year. From the northern Piemonte into Treviso and Tuscany, Umbria and the territories of the Chestnut Route, south of Modena and Bologna, there is the unmistakable sweet and smoky aroma of chestnuts roasting over an open fire. Roasted in special perforated pans, street vendors pile them into paper cones and you are in for a seasonal treat as the burnished shells peel back from the creamy steamed nutmeat inside.
This is prime time in Italy and if you have the chance to travel to Italy this time of the year, don’t hesitate to plan a shoulder season trip. Fall spent in northern and central Italy peeling piping hot chestnuts washed them down with the season’s new wine is a fine way to spend the afternoon before an evening’s harvest feast and a taste of new harvest oil.
There are over a hundred varieties of chestnut. Italian chestnut varieties include
Castagna Cuneo IGP (Piemonte)
Castagna del Monte Amiata IGP (Toscana)
Castagna di Montella IGP (Campania)
Castagna di Vallerano DOP (Lazio)
Marrone del Mugello IGP (Toscana)
Marrone della Valle di Susa IGP (Piemonte)
Marrone di Caprese Michelangelo DOP (Toscana)
Marrone di Castel del Rio IGP (Emilia Romagna)
Marrone di Combai IGP (Veneto)
Marrone di Roccadaspide IGP (Campania)
Marrone di San Zeno DOP (Veneto)
Marrone del Monfenera IGP (Veneto)
Marrone di Serino IGP (Campania )