Christmas in Tuscany
What you can expect during Christmas holidays in Tuscany?
The weather is mild and you can enjoy a lot of outdoor activities, including snow shoes excursions on the Apuan Alps. Otherwise, there are many wineries open in the period to enjoy some wine tasting or learn some local recipes in a traditional cooking class.
Italian people love spending their holidays with the family, playing cards or tombola, and eating a lot. This is the period for cooking mamas to show off: homemade tortelli, to be served in a special meat broth or with bolognese sauce, bollito , boiled meat with several different accompanyning sauces, giardiniera, a sidecourse made with winter vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, onions, celery marinated in vinegar, crostini di fegatelli, bread croutons spread with chicken liver paté, cooked in onions, vinsanto and other ingredients variating according to the area. My mom recipe includes capers and parsley.
The season is also offering many folklore events, connected to the Catholic tradition of the nativity place: creche in the caves in Antro del Corchia on the Apuan Alps, nativity processions in Bagni di Lucca, entire villages dressed up with Christmas decors like in Cascio in Garfagnana, to be combined with vin brulé, hot wine with cinnamon, orange, roasted chestnuts and necci, chestnuts flour pancakes.
Traditional recipes and food festivals
When it comes to Garfagnana, we immediately think of spelt and chestnuts. They are both products rooted in the history of this land, because they were originally introduced in nature by the Romans. With the discovery of America corn was introduced in cultivation, later becoming an indigenous variety, best known as Formenton Ottofile , i.e. made of 8 rows of grains. These products have represented, for centuries, together with potatoes and pork processing products, the main food of the population.
The polenta of ‘necci’, or chestnut flour, with boiled pork bacon, is one of the ‘delicacies’ of the area, though not particularly attractive from a visual point of view. In October, Cascio, a small village near Castelnuovo Garfagnana, is celebrating the ‘Castagnata’, offering among other delicacies this traditional dish. In fact, the bones must be stored in special hemp bags and then boiled for hours before reaching the right cooking. The small village, delightfully preserved by the inhabitants of the area, becomes a festive place, giving the opportunity to taste local produce, specially prepared by the wise hands of many lords and volunteers in the area. Not to mention the ‘crisciolette’, a sort of piadina with white and yellow flour, cooked with typical iron textures and stuffed with rolled cheese or bacon. Peer lovers of this kind, the Crisciolette festival is usually held in Cascio in July.