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Glass half-full: feast on the local produce
Events & FestivalsFood & Wine

Three must-visit Tuscan food festivals

By Sean Caulfield

Tuscany is food heaven. Crostini, fennel salami, bistecca alla Fiorentina, fish stew and chestnut cake – these are just some of the tempting local delights that await you. Then there are the wines: luscious Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino and the sweet Vin Santo, which is best served with biscotti. Go straight to the source of Tuscany’s edible treasures by visiting a festival, known locally as a sagre. Here are three of the best.

Bravio delle Botte, Montepulciano

If you’re near the town of Montepulciano on the last Sunday of August, be sure to catch the Bravio delle Botti. Eight teams of two runners (spingitori), each representing a different district, compete in this annual race by rolling an 80kg wine barrel through the town centre – a gruelling uphill journey for most of the 1.8km route. As the streets narrow, the barrels become more cumbersome, resulting in frequent collisions. First to the reach the Piazza Grande wins the painted cloth bearing the image of the town’s patron saint. Everyone is rewarded with a feast of local food.

San Miniato Truffle Fair

The fragrant local white truffle is celebrated on the last three weekends of November in the medieval market town of San Miniato, between Pisa and Florence. The prized funghi is available to sample and buy in different forms, including oils and paste, and there’s extra virgin olive oil, honey, pecorino, chocolate, focaccia, pickles, cakes and other products on sale, too. Meanwhile, the town’s restaurants serve up special dishes, such as a simple pasta cooked with truffle oil and fresh mushrooms.

Fest’ all’Olio, Vitolini

The latest olive oil and wine goes under the spotlight at the Fest’ all’Olio in Vitolini in November. The celebrations begin with a special themed dinner drawing on this produce from the local olive groves and vineyards. On the following day, stalls set out around the town, offering tastings, restaurants put on special menus and there are tours of the olive groves and vineyards, too.

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