by Maria Liberati on 02/12/12 at 7:09 pm
The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm shares an article. For more travel, food and life!! join 100,000 worldwide subscribers at www.marialiberati.com.
Guest Editor: Renata Toth
When it comes to travelling, most of us immediately think of a summer vacation of one or two weeks, all that we can manage to get off of work. Even if we may have a few days off during the other months of the year, it hardly comes to the mind to do it in the fall. However, one or two days really cannot hurt – you could just as well be on a sick leave! And while the summer period is perfect for swimming in the sea and sunbathing while sipping a nice cool cocktail, the much cooler autumn period offers its beauties and possibilities as well for a rather cultural trip.
Once you made up your mind taking off that Thursday and Friday to complete your weekend, you may just start wondering about the destination. There certainly are quite a lot of possibilities to visit all around Europe, but I bet we all tend to go where the weather is warmer. Italy offers a whole set of holiday destinations for those who love culture and sightseeing. Yet Italy is not only Rome and Venice: the region of Tuscany is also a wonderful destination.
Tuscany is a northern province of Italy, including illustrious cities such as Florence, Sienna, Pisa or Lucca, among others. Visiting the region is not only a good idea for culture aficionados but also for those looking forward to a romantic getaway in couple and spend a few sweet days just in two. Italy as such is considered the country of romance; this atmosphere seems to be concentrated even more densely in Tuscany. The sweet little cafés and small streets tend to get the couples closer to each other and slow down the quick rhythm of life, helping us to concentrate on the other and relax mentally and physically.
In autumn, Tuscany offers the same cultural sites as in any other season: the romance of Florence, the legendary leaning tower of Pisa, the ancient city centre of Sienna or Lucca are all-season favourites. One great advantage of travelling to Tuscany off the peak season is that prices are low, hotels are less crowded, and you can enjoy the atmosphere of Italy in peace. It also gives easier access to the museums, which sound extremely important when it comes to maybe the most famous Uffizi of Florence, where you can spend hours waiting in the line if you go in the peak season.
However, the fall season offers a different Tuscany than summer or spring would. The incredible beauty of the mosaic of the thousand colours of fall transform the forests into paintings expressing the melancholy of the passing summer and the charming tranquillity of the coming season. Apart from the natural beauty of the country that would enchant any visitor, fall offers a great opportunity for wine tasting, Tuscany being the home of several excellent wines. From November up to December the new wine festival takes place all across the region, offering the visitors a real insiders’ look and an authentic Tuscan experience.
Beside wine, chestnuts, mushroom and sausage are also a favourites of the autumn season. A great range of festivals take place in Tuscany related to these products, from the wine festival of Chianti to the chestnut festival in Grosseto. A typical food you are likely to taste if you visit one of these festivals is the Castagnaccio, a chestnut flour cake, made as follows:
- 250 g chestnut flour
- 500-700 ml water
- 75 g raisins
- 50 g pine nuts
- 5 walnuts (optional) – peeled and coarsely ground
- 1 tsp olive oil
- approx 20 needles of rosemary
First, mix the flour with the water until the mix is soft but not liquid. Add the olive oil, raisins, pine nuts and walnuts and mix them all together. Oil a pan large enough to make the dough 1 cm thick, and sprinkle the rosemary on top. Bake the cake on 200 Celsius for around 35-40 minutes, until cracks appear on the top of it. Then let it cool and serve!
The authentic taste of this cake is enjoyable not only in Tuscany, but you can make is at home as a reminder of a wonderful fall vacation.