If you’ll be in Florence this October, the Boccaccesca Food and Wine Festival is a must see. Not only does it feature the region’s best traditional food and wine, of which there is a whole lot, the festival is located in the rolling Tuscan countryside, just a few miles from the heart of the Chianti region. Now in its 11th year, the festival takes place in the town of Certaldo, the first and second weekends of October (2nd and 3rd; 9th and 10th), 2010.
Here’s what to expect:
Wine tastings with food pairings led by professional sommeliers
Rows and rows of booths operated by local merchants selling high-quality local food and wine products
Talks by Italian food specialists
Each day a well-respected chef will compose a unique dish out of the local products being sold
Demonstrations featuring the region’s famous ceramics
Performances by the Company of the Black Dragon, utilizing animation and theater to tell local fables
Music, dancing, and medieval re-enactments
Did I mention wine?
Italy’s food and wine festivals are some of the best in the world, combining the unique elements of its regional culinary traditions with its nowhere-else-on-earth atmosphere. Wandering among the booths with a glass of wine—cobblestones beneath your feet—during the day or just as the streetlights begin to come on to illuminate the old buildings and their ancient architecture… It doesn’t get any better.
Fortunately, Boccaccesca is so inexpensive that budget travelers and gourmets alike can enjoy it. If you happen to be both a budget traveler and a gourmet, all the better! The festival costs five euro to enter. An endless glass of wine is another five euro. Local cheeses, cured meats, olives, stuffed pork (porchetta), and fresh produce are all sold by the kilo, allowing visitors to purchase just enough to compliment the wine or to take home.
Trains and buses run to and from Certaldo from Florence and Siena. Once in Certaldo, visitors must take a tram called the furniculare to the city center. Trains run back to Florence until 11 pm and to Siena until 1:30 am, allowing visitors to enjoy a full night’s entertainment. Alternatively, the town and its magnificent surrounding area offer B&Bs, hotels, and agriturismo, and both Florence and Siena have several rental car companies. The town of Greve in Chianti, though a 50-minute drive away from Certaldo, is another good option. It is one of the best locations to be based out of when visiting Chianti, and I always swing through Chianti when I’m in the area.
If you make it to Boccaccesca, make sure to keep a look out for Tuscany’s most important traditional food items. Porchetta is served as either a sandwich or on its own. It is a whole pig that is deboned, stuffed with herbs and breading, and roasted. Young, un-aged Pecorino cheese is another specialty. Salami made with wild boar or deer is also worth a try. In regard to wine, the Sangiovese grape is king. It is used to make Chianti wines as well as the famous Supertuscans, which are local wines featuring international grapes and winemaking methods.
Written by By Mattie Bamman for EuropeUpClose.com