Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 16, 2011

Roasting chestnuts in Lupinaia

welcome to Lupinaia

Heather Jarman, a local who knows everything there is to know about food and festivals in the Bagni di Lucca area, took me to the Chestnut Festival in Lupinaia on Sunday. It was a glorious autumn day, perfect for a day in the mountains.

on the way to Lupinaia

We drove to the lower car park and took the shuttle bus to the village. We had considered (briefly) walking to the top, but thought better of it. Just as well, the signs said 3 kilometres, but the signs lied. It had to be at least 5 kilometres, all uphill.

The festival was well underway when we arrived. There were long queues at the food tents so we headed off to see what else was happening in the village.

There were lots of food stands selling the local products of the area. With my resident food expert at my side I was able to make all the right choices. She directed me to a hand milled local grain for polenta. Apparently the red polenta is the best of all.

the red polenta is on the left

We also got to meet the grower and grinder.

he also sells chestnut flour, walnuts and honey

The nearby stand sold some very good sausages and salami.

fat salami

thin salami

fat sausages

We walked on up the hill through the village.

we walked past grapevines

There were food stalls set up on balconies.

food with a view

we walked past a lovely tree

we walked past a pretty girl on a fence

We walked past a very large woodpile. It gets cold up there in winter.

Heather beside the woodpile

We finally arrived at the scene of the chestnut roasting action.

the scene of the action

roasting the chestnuts

hard at work


quietly roasting

the roasting pans need to be shaken

time to eat them

These were the best chestnuts I have ever eaten. They were cooked to perfection and were plump and delicious.

There was a man demonstrating the shelling of chestnuts with a very interesting contraption.

the chestnut man and his machine

The chestnuts go in at the top, it swings into action.

and the shells fly everywhere

We made our way back down through the village towards the food and we passed a lovely old gentleman demonstrating basket making with willow branches.



Further on there was a very pretty young girl making pasta.



Then it was lunch time.


An owl watched from above.


We walked back to the car along an old mule track. It was much quicker than following the winding road and I am so used to carrying large bundles, I thought a mule track was most appropriate. Fortunately Heather knew the way. Late afternoon on the mule track was wonderful.















If you have the chance to attend a local festival in Italy, please do. Each one is a bit different and they all have something wonderful to offer. Heather knows about all the festivals in the Bagni di Lucca area. There will be more on her later.

Heather also took me to visit Marzia, who makes cheese. Click here to come along with us.

Take a look at Heather’s website for more information on her tours.



  1. Sensational!

    • Lupinaia is a gorgeous village. We have to go there next time you come.

      • Where abouts is Lupinaia? We are coming to Bagna in 2 weeks and can’t wait! V

      • Lupinaia is about 30 minutes from Bagni di Lucca, on the same side of the Serchio river as Barga. You head towards Fosciandora, which is not far from Castelnuovo. The whole area is gorgeous. There are lots of little villages to explore.

  2. It looks fantastic, and I’m delighted you met up with Heather. I wish we could have been there – another time we will be!

    • She also took me to a cheese maker. There will be a post on it soon. She knows her stuff.

  3. Loved the photos and the content of the posting! I am also looking forward to meeting Heather :)))

  4. Gorgeous photos! They make me feel as if I’m there again. That fat salami is called mondiola and it’s only made in the Garfagnana. It’s seasoned with nutmeg and clove. They make a normal long salami and then bend it into a U-shape and tie the ends, with a bay leaf in the middle. It’s delicious!

    • I wish I had bought one! I will look for it.

  5. It looks terrific and the photos are great. There are so many festivals and sagras in our area! The chestnut ones are very important as it has been the staple food for most people for many centuries.

    • This was a lovely festival. Perhaps you will be here for it next year.

  6. Is it that time of year again? What a wonderful post, highlighting the unique and special character of this part of the world. I would love to be able to pop in to one of these festivals. Chestnut flour is hard to come by here, though it is possible and there is often much talk about how to bake with it. I saw some lovely chestnut madeleines on a friend’s blog the other day. Thank you for your beautiful photos as always. A lovely walk with you šŸ™‚

    • It is easy to get chestnut flour here and there are several places that make neci, the chestnut pancakes traditional in the area.

  7. You bring us such beautiful vistas Debra! And the light looks so lovely there too šŸ™‚

    • Late afternoon walking down the mule track was so beautiful

  8. Lupinaia looks like a pretty village with spectacular views and a fun festival as well. I love the photo of the man weaving the willow baskets. I hope he’s passed on his skills.

    • I hope they have been passed on too. It think it is important to keep these traditions going. The festivals help to do just this.

  9. Wow, it all looks so good, I swear I could nearly taste and smell the food. And what a gorgeous place.

    • Lupinaia is beautiful and the food was indeed delicious.

  10. Beautiful photos. Would give anything to be able to share your photos with my father and grandparents who grew up in the Bagni area and who often talked about necci and the staple that chestnut flour was in their lives, especially during the war.
    Look forward to hearing more about Heather. Can’t wait to get back.

    • Chestnut flour is now considered a bit exotic in some places. It may not have been so when you had little else to eat.

  11. Amazing nature… i love such kind of festivals but never went to a one. the owl looks a toy, doesnt look at all natural…

    • The owl was ceramic I think. I thought it was cute sitting up in that tree. Next time you come to Italy look for the local festivals, they are a lot of fun.

  12. I am so glad that you and Heather hooked up. What a glorious day-if only I could have joined you! Thank you for making me think I was there with your fabulous photos.

    • We had a great day. She also took me to Marzia for the cheese making. There will be a post on that soon.

  13. Ciao Deb, where is Lupinaia? Your photos really make me homesick. Ciao

    • Lupinaia is near the bigger village of Fosciandora, on the other side of the river from Castelnuovo. It is about 30 minutes from Bagni di Lucca. The area is gorgeous.

  14. Heather took me to a festival 3 weeks ago much like this one-i bought a lovely basket just like these in your pictures. She is a true jewel! Thank you for the lovely pictures…-I’m hungry for them right now!

    • These baskets didn’t seem to be for sale. Lucky you, I would love one.

  15. What a fabulous day!!

  16. Could smell those chestnuts wafting in the air! Love the way you took us along your walk, and the way you capture the happiness of the locals sharing their arts. Also love your subtle humour about the mule track. Autumn is always my favourite season especially when the colours intensify in the late afternoons. You are lucky to have Heather as your guide. Look forward to the cheese-making episode!

    • It was a gorgeous day and those chestnuts were delicious.

  17. Gorgeous! What a wonderful way to spend a day.

    • Bagni di Lucca is surrounded by wonderful places to visit. Lupinaia is gorgeous.

  18. Oh wow, Debra. I miss Italy!!! What a lovely post. I feel like I am there with your photos.

    • It was a magical afternoon. This autumn has been amazing, the days are still warm and sunny, but as soon as the sun disappears it is quite cold. I love it!

  19. Oh my goodness, so beautiful! I never imagined how beautiful Italy would be in the fall. Someday I hope to attend a local festa in Italy.

    • This one was a lot of fun, but they all have something different to offer. The archery competition in Montalcino was amazing.

  20. Was there in 2009

  21. Oh, this reminds me so much of my old village – your photographs made me miss it with intensely. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

    • Autumn has been absolutely perfect this year in Tuscany. We have had glorious blue skies almost every day. My afternoon in Lupinaia was wonderful.

  22. […] here to see the wonderful chestnut festival in Lupinaia, a gorgeous mountain village nearby. […]

  23. […] had another wonderful adventure with Heather at the Chestnut Festival in Lupinaia. Click here to join us. GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

  24. […] sampling the delights of the festival we wandered back to the car along an old mule track. Click here to walk the track with us. Ā  I took myself off to discover Naples for the first time and fell in […]

  25. […] here to see more of the gorgeous […]

  26. […] here to see the gorgeous festival last year in Lupinaia, high in the […]

  27. […] here to see a gorgeous chestnut festival in Colognora and here for an equally fabulous one in […]

  28. Great site! I was born in Bagni di Lucca and have photos of my Father’s ‘batti castagne’ that he made after the war and before migrating to Australia. We tried to locate it some years ago but the owner was not willing to sell it.
    Will be visiting soon and no doubt will spend some time looking around and visiting relatives.

    • I hope you have a great time in Bagni di Lucca. Which village do you come from?

      • My siblings were born at a house called ‘Rupini’ on the hill on the way to Bagni Caldi. I was born in Ponte a Serragli’. Cousins lived at Lugliano.

      • My place is in Ponte a Serraglio. It is the one right on the bridge, with the tiny balcony over the rover. I’m sure I have seen Rupini on my walks up the hill. I will look out for it when I go back in October.

      • I know where you live then. One of my cousins had a barber shop there before died some time back.

  29. […] Here is the post I wrote about the chestnut festival in Lupinaia. It is one of the best in the area. […]

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