What’s on in Tuscany this autumn?
Late summer and autumn is the time to indulge in Tuscany’s fantastic home-grown food and drink, with plenty of festivals, or sagre, to experience.
One of the biggest is Chianti Classico Expo, a major celebration of the region’s most famous wines in Greve, 5-8 September. Taste your way around 66 producers from the nine towns of the Chianti Classico region, which will be presenting their wines alongside olive oil and other delicious local produce. Check out, too, the national Calici di Stelle wine event, 2-11 August, when glasses are raised as night falls, with tasting events beneath the stars in towns including Siena, Gaiole, Castiglione D’Orcia and Montepulciano.
For beer-lovers, there’s the Villaggio della Birra beer festival held south-east of Siena in Buonconvento, 6-8 September. This international festival of artisanal breweries started in 2006 as a celebration of friendship between Italian and Belgian brewers. It now welcomes brewers from across the world for tastings, food, live music and arts. Read our review.
Montepulciano’s Bravio delle Botti on 25 August was originally a horse race but in 1974 wine barrels were substituted for the steeds. Eight contrade, or districts, challenge each other to win a precious piece of painted cloth by rolling wine barrels up hill. They make a day of it: lunch follows, with a medieval procession in the afternoon.
One of the region’s most important events takes place in autumn, L’Eroica, 6 October, a cycling event that has launched an international movement over the past 20 years. Thousands of cyclists set off on vintage bikes from Gaiole along the white gravel roads of the Tuscan countryside. Routes range from 46km to 209km and a 3,700m altitude difference with plenty of stop-offs to sample local food and, of course, wine.
Not just for art-lovers, the exhibition Heaven in a Room – Wooden ceilings in Renaissance Florence and Rome explores the wooden coffered ceilings known as cieli, or heavens, at Florence’s Uffizi Gallery from 30 August. These highly decorated visual narratives were features of many Renaissance churches and palazzos and are examined through a fascinating collection of drawings, prints, paintings and other documents from the Uffizi collection.
So, what about those delicious sagres? Carmignano celebrates figs at its Benvenuto Fico Secco festival, 19-20 October, and Bacchereto, a hamlet of Carmignano, puts chestnuts in the spotlight, 13-14 and 20–21 October. For truffles, head to the hamlets of San Miniato in the province of Pisa. Corazzano holds its White Truffle Fair on 5-6 October, with more truffles in Ponte a Egola on 26-27 October, while there are mushrooms as well as truffles on show at La Serra, 27-29 September, and Balconevisi, 19-20 October.
And, if you missed Siena’s famous horse race, Il Palio, in July, there’s a second chance to catch it on 16 August. And don’t forget Domenica al Museo, when all the state-run museums open free of charge on the first Sunday of the month, starts in October and runs until March.