White Truffles And Roasted Chestnuts In Tuscany

Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers,

If you are new to this column I should tell you that each month I reflect back on the previous one, which in this case is October 2018. My aim is to bring you lots of fun things, and not too many serious ones.Overall, October was a good month weather-wise, warm & balmy and very little rain. The downside was the mosquitos (zanzari) that were encouraged to stay around for a while longer.

So, I took my man off up the coast north of Pisa for a couple of nights away. We stayed at the Hotel Grande Imperiale in Forte dei Marmi. Lovely hotel, but the location was not. So, we jumped in the car and headed off for Pietrasanta, a lovely hill town renowned for its artistic talents including marble and bronze creations. We were not disappointed to find fascinating galleries, delightful shops, alleyways and, most importantly, the perfect ristorante for lunch. The Osteria Barsanta54 is a short walk away from the main centre near the top of Via Barsanta, and really worth the effort. This was a little haven of nice arty furniture, but with a little class and not pretentious. The menu was to die for! I can highly recommend this place to you.

Meanwhile, back in our little bit of Chianti, the olive harvest (raccolta) was in full swing. We arrived at our local ristorante, C’era una Volta, to find Paolo needing help with the carrying in of a churn of his own brilliant green cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil. He promptly scooped out a small jug-full and popped it on our table with spoons and bread for tasting. Oh, wow, there is nothing like that first taste of the new oil! He also had some freshly hunted white truffles (tartufo bianco), which he grated liberally over hot buttered pasta, we were in absolute heaven!

Sunday morning, we headed down to Certaldo, our local town, for espressi lungi (long espressos) that are a single espresso with a tiny top up of hot water, and a pastry for my man of course. If you are in Certaldo, head for Jam Caffe for the best pastries in town. Strolling up Via Giugno after breakfast, we noticed a sign on the door of the only charity shop in town, which would be opening at 10am for a vintage morning in aid of the Red Cross. Now, I have to say, that in this shop you can buy lots of very good Italian labels for next to nothing. My sister-in-law goes crazy for the place when she is here from England. I have also bought paintings, jewellery, glass and ceramics here!

October is also the month for roasted chestnuts (castagna or marone). Now the Italians take this time very seriously and there are festas celebrating the hunting for and roasting of these shiny brown gems, all over the country. Most markets will have a roast chestnut fire burning where you can buy a paper conefull. Some good news is that hunting with guns may be banned on a Sunday soon, so if this does happen, foraging in the woods should be far less dangerous! There is still a ‘free to roam’ law in the country, but sadly it does not currently exclude hunters and their dogs.

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Anyway, a complete change of subject and to the world of Italian fashion. I notice that it’s the time of year for ankle boots and chunky smart shoes that are very popular here now. Visit igi & Co for wonderful hand-made stuff.

On the music scene I noticed that Bono was on tour, strutting his stuff. Always one for the underdog and those suffering hardships he was quoted in La Repubblica as saying ‘Thank you Italians for the love that you show to the refugees, others would be ashamed….’ Mmmm, not sure if he has got the whole picture here, but that is what he obviously believes, bless him……

And so, the month of October came to an end with the vineyards turning to Autumn colours and a bit of a storm that sent yet more acorns and fir cones flying through the air and cracking underfoot. But overall, it was a lovely month.
Finally, into November, but more about that next time.

Salute June x


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