Do you know why I love fall in Italy? It boils down to one thing – food. Fall in Italy brings a smorgasbord of flavors. Grapes are picked. Olives get pressed. And, truffles are chased.
Towns across the country host food fairs – sagre in Italian – in honor of their favorite seasonal eats... from pumpkin tortelli to wild mushrooms. If you’re traveling to Italy during autumn, a bounty awaits your belly.
Travelers can spend the day, journeying from food stall to food stall. They’ll taste the slow recipes that Italians take such pride in. Don’t be surprised if the locals insist your travelers try just one more morsel – you can't say "NO" to Italian cooks, after all.
Below, I’ve gathered together Italy’s most irresistible food fairs.
SAGRA OF PORCINI MUSHROOMS (VITERBO) – Sep. 13th – 20th, 2016
Porcini are the uncontested emperor of mushrooms. Whether dried or eaten fresh, the porcino is famed for its rich, earthy flavor. Foraged from the wild since Roman times, porcinis star in creamy risottos or crown egg-yellow tagliatelle. Visitors to Viterbo, a city in the same region as Rome, can indulge their porcini pinings on items like wild mushroom crostini or pasta with porcini ragù.
WHITE TRUFFLE FESTIVAL (ALBA) – Oct. 8th – Nov. 27th, 2016
Famed worldwide for its aromatic flavor, the white truffle is one of Italy’s most prized foods. It is particularly treasured by the people of Piedmont in Italy’s north. For nearly 2 months each fall, residents of Alba host the white truffle fair. Food-minded travelers can purchase whole truffles, sip local wine, and dine on truffle-flecked delicacies. It’s even possible to hunt for truffles, sniffing out the prized truffles with the help of specially-trained dogs and nature guides.
EUROCHOCOLATE (PERUGIA) – Oct. 14th – 23rd, 2016
Perugia is Italy’s chocolate capital. It produces baci, chocolate “kisses” filled with hazelnuts. And, Perugia’s home to the chocolate company Perugina. For 9 days each October, it also hosts the annual EuroChocolate Festival. Cocoa-themed displays and stalls populate Perugia’s winding streets. Here, you can nibble on a chocolate panino, sip chocolate liqueur or marvel at scultpure carved from solid blocks of chocolate.
SAGRA OF PUMPKIN RAVIOLI (MANTUA) – Oct. 18th & 19th
Mantua, a historic city in Italy’s Lombardy region, will be the European Capital of Gastronomy in 2017. Rightly so, as the city boasts hearty dishes such as risotto and braised meat. When it comes to pasta, the tortello di zucca rules in Mantua. Fresh ravioli are filled by hand with pureed pumpkin, parmigiano cheese and crumbled amaretti cookies.
Who’s famished for fall in Italy?
I sure am.