Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 16, 2014

Autumn festivals

October is a great month for autumn festivals in Bagni di Lucca and the surrounding mountain villages. In the last couple of weeks I have been to a few with Heather Jarman from Sapori e Saperi.

The Festa della Zucca at Piegaia was a very colourful event. Who would have guessed that pumpkins come in so many shapes and sizes?


Of course there was delicious food being served. We had pasta with pumpkin and other delights.

Festa della Zucca

There were stalls selling all kinds of things related to pumpkins and other things. We met the lovely weavers who made my gorgeous green rug for my kitchen at Casa Debbio.

Festa della Zucca

Festa della Zucca

Later the same day we headed up another mountain to the chestnut festival at Trassilico, the village I can see from my terrace at Casa Debbio.

Here we sampled roasted chestnuts and necci, chestnut pancakes filled with ricotta.

Trassilico chestnut festival

Trassilico chestnut festival

We also met the handsome young mayor of Gallicano who is bringing great new ideas to the area. There are so many wonderful things to see and do in the Garfagnana and David is doing his best to spread the word.

David mayor of Gallicano

Cascio was the venue for the next chestnut festival. This tiny town must be doing something right,  hundreds of people came out on a beautiful sunny day to try delicious specialities of the area, including chestnuts, salumi, polenta, fritelle and castagnaccio.

Cascio chestnut festival

Cascio chestnut festival

The village is in a stunning setting and has some amazing buildings, including a castle on top of the hill, where we enjoyed our dolce.

Cascio chestnut festival

Just before we left a group of enthusiastic musicians and dancers performed for us.

Cascio chestnut festival

Cascio chestnut festival

Don’t miss these local festivals when you are in Italy. Each one is different and it is wonderful to see people come out to join in the fun.

For more on these local festivals go to Bella Bagni di Lucca where I will be writing more about them over the next few weeks.


  1. Beautiful post… it really gives us an overview of the place people and culture 🙂

    Thanks a lot for sharing…

    • I really enjoy the local festivals. There is always something new to see, do and eat.

  2. I love a good autumn festival, and they look like some good autumn festivals. Really nice photos! We’re heading out to two this weekend, chestnuts and white truffles. Can’t wait!

    • I have been twice to the truffle festival in Alba. It is great fun.

  3. You two have all the fun! Sorry I missed out on these great festivals.

    • There are a couple more this weekend…if I don’t go truffle hunting.

  4. What fun, Debra. Love your pumpkin pics, and that past looks to die for. Yum! How nice to have a handsome young mayor with fresh ideas. The people there must be delighted. 🙂

    • We have an enthusiastic young mayor in Vergemoli too. He has initiative, which is great.

  5. I would venture that autumn offers as many festivals as summer with extra advantages, such as a milder climate, beautiful golden landscapes and less tourists competing for space. I love autumn!

    • I like autumn too, much better than the heat of summer.

  6. I am very curious about the pumpkin-spiced foods that are now so popular in Italy. My question is whether they have always cooked with pumpkins or if this is a new phenomena due to the popularity of the new Halloween customs in Italy. My parents never mentioned pumpkins and never cooked with them, either. Do you happen to know any history on using pumpkins in cooking?

    • I don’t know any history of pumpkin cooking. The festival itself is not all that old. I will ask Heather, she knows lots about the traditional food of the area.

    • I’ve found a reference to ‘zucca’ the Italian word for squash (or pumpkin in Australian and NZ English, I read in Wiki) in a Piemontese cookery book published in 1766. Pellegrino Artusi gives a recipe for zuppa di zucca gialla (yellow squash soup) in his book La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene (Science in the kitchen and the art of eating well) originally published in 1891. I didn’t find ‘zucca’ in my facsimile of Pietro Santi Puppo’s book Il Cuciniere moderno published in Lucca in 1849, but I may have missed it embedded as an ingredient in a recipe.

    • PS I omitted the classic tortelli di zucca from Mantova, a recipe thought to go back to the Renaissance. The squash used for the filling is the zucca mantovana, a large green squash with deep orange, sweet flesh. All this research is inspiring a blog of my own in the near future (see my website). Thank you for the excellent question, tesorotreasures.

      • Wow, I had no idea! Looks as if pumpkins go way back! Thanks for the info!

  7. Wonderful! Wish I was there ….

    • I love going to the local festivals, each one is different.

  8. I’ll bet the chestnuts being roasted over the open fire were a treat to your olfactory nerves!

    • It is a great aroma, sometimes better than the taste.

  9. I love these festivals…may they continue to be successful and well supported by the locals and visitors alike.

    • I will be at the Ponte festival on Sunday and perhaps one in Lucchio.

  10. Cheers to the Chestnut Festival … and I would love the pancake filled with ricotta!

    • It took me a while to acquire a taste for necci, but now I really like them.

  11. Hi Deb I love re living my time in Bagni di Lucca through your stories

    • There is no shortage of things to do around here.

  12. I love chestnuts so I’d absolutely adore that chestnut festival! Looks like everyone is having fun 🙂

    • The local festivals are great fun. I have 2 chestnut festivals to go to tomorrow if it is fine.

  13. Such fun, looks like amazing fun. Gahhhh… Chestnuts make me shudder, I remember spending days as a Chef peeling them. But the smells as they roasted would have been amazing. 🙂

    • I can imagine there would be little joy in peeling chestnuts, but they taste good.

Leave a Reply


%d bloggers like this: