Food lovers visiting Siena are always spoilt for choice with excellent restaurants, bakeries and delicatessens selling the most delicious food. Local food festivals also offer great opportunities for immersing in traditions and sampling excellent Tuscan specialties. Almost every town in the area has their own dishes and customs, so you are bound to come across a food festival any time of year in one place or another.
The beautiful village of Montefioralle has been hosting the Fritters Festival (Festa della Frittella) every March since the 1960s. The frittelle di San Giuseppe made to an antique local recipe from cooked rice and eggs are fried in a huge frying pan, two metres in diameter, on the piazza in front of the ancient Montefioralle castle. Hot and delicious, they are washed down with Chianti wine or sweet vinsanto.
In October the small village of Vivo d'Orcia celebrates a Mushroom and Chestnut Festival (Sagra del Fungo e della Castagna). Two local teams make wooden stools and tables with antique saws that are later used for a feast. Traditional polenta, chestnut and porcini mushroom dishes are served in the streets and restaurants.
Cheese lovers from all over Italy gather in Pienza on the first Sunday in September to enjoy the Pecorino Fair and "Cacio al Fuso". Pienza’s sheep’s milk cheese is considered one of the best in Italy and can be sampled during the festival. The Cacio al Fuso, a cheese rolling competition, has ancient roots. Participants roll small heads of cheese aiming at a spindle and whoever hits it wins a prize.
|Pecorino from Pienza|
During the Fall Festival (Festa d'Autunno) in Asciano that takes place in October, food lovers can gorge on dishes made with local white truffles (tartufo bianco delle Crete Senesi). Local farmers and artisans set up their stands along the town’s cobbled streets selling delicacies made with the precious tuber and other local specialties. Restaurants serve fragrant pasta dishes with white truffle accompanied by excellent local wines.
Photos via Flickr by: Jon Culver, Salvadonica Borgo del Chianti, Jonathan Cohen.