Autumn in Tuscany is an enchanting time of year. The acres of vineyards become waves of red and gold, chestnuts and truffles are ripe for hungry gastronomes to taste, and olive mills begin churning out their green-gold treasure.
In Italy, the seasons are often celebrated through food and wine festivals and small, local sagra. These are “Italy’s best-kept secrets,” traditional events that have been held for decades or centuries. Producers set up their stands to sell their goods, music and dancing fill the piazzas, and a whole range of activities fills the schedule (not just eating and drinking…although there is plenty of that to go around!).
Here is a selection of the events, festivals, and sagre in the Chianti territory and throughout Tuscany that celebrate autumn with their fall flavors and fun activities.
Festivals, Sagre, and Events in Tuscany – Fall 2016
Autumn festivals in Chianti
Chianti Star Festival – Tavarnelle Val di Pesa and San Donato in Poggio – Sept. 17-Oct. 4
The Chianti Star Festival unites the sciences, fine arts, and fall flavors in a series of events like appointments in Chianti’s astronomical observatory to art exhibits and—of course—tastings of local products.
Eroica – Gaiole in Chianti – Oct. 2
This legendary bike race is not for the faint-hearted, as its name suggests: eroica means “heroic.” This race winds along the white roads of Chianti in pursuit of the “beauty of fatigue” and the “thrill of the conquest.”
Dit’unto – Castelnuovo Berardenga – Oct. 9
The Dit’unto festival is dedicated to the pleasures of eating with your hands (its name means “wet finger”). Taste the best of Tuscan cuisine in all its rustic splendor as well as the heights of Michelin-starred chefs (seven, to be exact), in food’s most natural way to be consumed: directly from the plates, no utensils to get in the way!
Ecomarathon of Chianti – Castelnuovo Berardenga – Oct. 15-16
The Ecomarathon of Chianti departs from the Castle of Brolio, and continues for three different options: 14 km, 21 km, or 41 km. The finish line is in the “Slow City” of Castelnuovo Berardenga.
Autumn festivals in Tuscany
Chestnut Sagra – Marradi | Oct 4 – 18 & 25
Marroni, or chestnuts, are the center of attention in this town during the annual Sagra delle Castagne. Taste them in traditional foods such as castagnaccio cake, tortelli di marroni chestnut-filled pasta, torta di marroni (another chestnut cake), in jams and preserves, or in a paper cone of honest, roasted nuggets.
Fiera di San Luca – Impruneta – Oct. 15-23
If you’re into folklore and long-held traditions, then the Fair of Saint Luke is the event for you. One of the oldest livestock fairs in all of Europe, it was first mentioned in the 1600s. Today, this days-long event features all kinds of activities and foods to try (such as hearty, meaty peposo!), while the livestock remain the stars of the show.
Castagnalandia – Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina – Oct. 22-23
“Chestnutland,” as this event is so charmingly named, is not only a celebration of one of Tuscany’s most important products, but also a step back in time with its different epoch themes, folklore traditions, dances, markets, and music.
46th National White Truffle Fair – San Miniato – Nov. 12-Dec. 4
Later in the fall, the earth divulges its most precious treasures: the white truffle. This national market and fair is filled with the heady aroma of these rare, underground mushrooms, and visitors may taste and buy the best products and specimens of the area during the San Miniato fair.
Volterragusto – Volterra – Oct. 24-Nov. 1
This fun food and wine event lets you try the local goodies of Volterra, but there is also an especially entertaining activity you don’t want to miss: the traditional Palio dei Caci cheese competition. The participants of each city district, or contrada, roll a wheel representing cheese through the streets of the city center.
Duck Race – Balconevisi – Oct. 10-11
They weren’t expecting the Palio del Papero to become a tradition when, over 30 years ago, they started racing ducks in the city streets for a laugh…but as these things will go, it proved too much fun not to repeat! Now, the districts of this little town compete annually for a rollicking good time, training their ducks by letting them chase after chickens in a straight line through vineyard rows (but this is the only secret they’re going to give away).
Autumn Festival – Abbadia San Salvatore – Oct. 7-9 and 14-16
Let’s finish with the comfortable traditions of an all-around fall festival: the Festa d’Autunno of Abbadia San Salvatore. The bounty of the fall harvest is celebrated in the abundance of traditional recipes that use all the local ingredients from Mount Amiata paired with plenty of wine. There are also exhibits, a poetry competition, visits to the old mercury mines of the town, walk and hikes in the zone, and many wine and food tastings of typical products.