Tuscany plays host to numerous festivals throughout the year. Here’s our complete guide to the Italian festivals that you’ll find each October in Tuscany. This is the time of year that coincides with the harvest of the olives and grapes amongst other things so you’ll find many of Tuscany’s Autumn festivals revolve around food, making October the ideal time for foodies to visit Tuscany.
There are a number of festivals celebrating the chestnut harvest in Tuscany.
The first of these is in Monticello Amiata and is held from Friday until Sunday in the second weekend in October. This 3 day festival – Festa della Castagna – celebrates everything about the humble chestnut! You’ll probably smell them even before you see them with large pans (tegliate) positioned throughout the town to roast the chestnuts in. Of course, there are plenty of opportunities to taste and buy this Autumnal speciality.
One of the longest celebrations of the chestnut takes place in Marradi at the Sagra delle Castagne with events taking place in the town every weekend in October. Food stalls will sell a host of creations made using chestnuts including jams and marmalades, pasta (tortelli di marroni) cakes and puddings (torta di marroni and il castagnaccio), not to mention simple roasted chestnuts.
In Caprese Michelangelo across the 3rd and 4th weekends of October, you’ll find another Festa della Castagna. Birthplace of one of the most famous artists in the world, Michelangelo, Caprese Michelangelo is also where you’ll find some of Tuscany’s most delicious chestnuts. The trees here were originally planted in Medieval times by monks and for centuries the chestnut harvest staved off starvation for the towns inhabitants over the harsh Winter months.
Palaia also celebrates the humble chestnut on the last Sunday of October each year but they also combine the festivities with a celebration of the white truffle (tartufo bianco) and new wines (vin novo).
Other festivals that revolve around the chestnut include Castagnata d’Autunno in Bagno Vignoni at the end of October, the Bacchereto chestnut festival, the Piancastagnaio chestnut festival and the 2 day Castagnalandia festival that takes place every year in Castelnuovo Val di Cecina on the third weekend of October where you’ll find villagers participating in a parade, plenty of stalls, music and games, some of which date back to Medieval times. And let’s not forget the Festa del Marrone in Campiglia d’Orcia where the streets are filled with colour and the chestnut is celebrated in its many forms.
We think that one of the things that goes perfectly with chestnuts is chocolate! If you agree, then head to Vergaio in mid October for the Passione D’Autunno. This small town just outside Prato in Tuscany has an event not just on chestnuts but also on chocolate. This is chocoholic heaven with handmade artisan chocolate available to try and buy.
It’s not just chestnuts that Tuscans can’t get enough of in October. Mushrooms play just as prominent a role in Tuscany’s festivals this month.
In the 3rd weekend of October, make your way to Balconevisi to celebrate delicious white truffles and mushrooms at the Sagra del Tartufo Bianco e del Fungo. Eat your way through all the food stalls and take part in the many events that make up this 2 day festival including a competition to uncover the best and biggest truffles.
The following weekend, if you haven’t sampled enough mushrooms to satisfy your appetite, then head to the Vivo d’Orcia mushroom festival in
Held in the first weekend of October each year, the International White Truffle Fair and Market in Corazzano is the perfect opportunity to try the famous white truffles for yourself.
At the other end of the month and crossing into the start of November, Volterragusto in beautiful Volterra is also a celebration of the delicious white truffle. Whilst the white truffle may take centre stage, it will be accompanied by other local foodstuffs including wine, oil, cheese and salami.
Olive Oil Festivals
There are several events each year in Tuscany which celebrate the new olive oil harvest but the first is the Festa dell’ Olio in Trequanda. Other festivals devoted to olive oil is the Rassegna dell’ olio extra vergine di oliva in Regello. Again, as the name suggests, extra virgin olive oil is the focal point of this festival with tastings, tours and other events to be enjoyed over 3 days.
Other food festivals
If you’re into spice, then head to Festa Pic in Camaiore in October. PIC stands for ‘piccante‘ and you’ll find varieties of chilli peppers from around the world at this annual festival.
Or if you’re looking for a food festival that incorporates a plethora of different foods head to Centogusti dell’ Appennino. Marking the start of Autumn in Anghiari which is one of the ‘borghi piu belli d’Italia‘, Centogusti dell’ Appennino means ‘100 flavours of the Apennines’ and is the perfect title to an event that is dedicated to the production of food and drink by local farmers, growers and producers. At the end of October and beginning of November each year, local shops and stalls in the village offer the opportunity to taste and purchase numerous products from chocolate to wine, from sweet treats to vegetables and from meats to milk. You’ll also find plenty of food demonstrations, culinary workshops and the popular ‘walk of the hundred tastes’ which starts from the outer walls of the town and leads all the way through its charming narrow streets.
Another great opportunity to try a whole range of food and drink is to head to Arezzo to the Mercato Internazionale. Over 300 stalls represent food not just from Italy but and crafts from all over the globe.
Or head to the Festa d’Autunno in Abbadia San Salvatore, a celebration of everything wonderful about the Autumn produce and harvest. You’ll find ancient recipes recreated using the freshest seasonal produce. Or try out Gustatus in Orbetello. At the end of October and very beginning of November, Gustatus is when Orbetello’s residents come together to showcase the very best of the local food and wine grown and produced within the region. Restaurants and farmers alike set up stalls that showcase the best food and wine grown and produced within the region, including the much-coveted spaghetti alla bottarga.
With all these festivals devoted to food, you’ll need something to wash it all down with so check out Tuscany’s October festivals devoted to wine.
Held in the first weekend of October is the Sagra del Vino wine festival in Montescudaio. With the castle serving as a backdrop to proceedings, visitors can sample the many wines from the cellars of the Montescudaio DOC producers along with the opportunity to pair these tastings with traditional foodstuffs of the region. Music adds to the atmosphere and the event culminates in an evening of fireworks on the Sunday.
The Festa dell’ Uva in Cinigiano is a wine festival that has been running since the mid 1960s. Locals use the festival as an opportunity to share the passion they have for their fantastic quality wine. The town’s wine cellars are open to the public so that they can enjoy wine tastings galore frequently paired with complimentary local food tastings. You’ll also find talks by expert sommeliers, competitions, music, market stalls and posh dinners. There is genuinely so much to see and do here, you’ll find a day is not enough to do it justice! Whatever you do, don’t leave until you’ve witnessed the parade that closes the festival. With gigantic papier mache floats and participants dressed head to toe in colourful costumes, it’s a wonderful spectacle.
And let’s not forget the small village of Cascio whose central fountain spews out wine rather than water during their annual wine festival!
Whilst Tuscany’s most famous palio is certainly that held each Summer in Siena, there can be no disputing the fact that the duck palio in Balconevisi (Palio del Papero) is certainly the most unusual! The competing birds from four neighbouring towns – Formacino, Il Borgo, Buecchio and Fondo di Scesa – must race over 150 metres encouraged by their owners voices but their unpredictability makes for quite an entertaining spectacle!
If you thought a duck palio was quirky, then wait until you hear about the Palio dei Caci in Volterra! Best described as a cheese rolling competition, participants have to roll a circular shaped cheese through the streets of the town to see who can reach the finishing line first, all cheered on by avid spectators of course!!
The Sagra del Tordo in Montalcino has taken place on the last Sunday of October since 1958. Translated as the ‘song thrush festival’ which is a nod to the long tradition of hunting in this area due to bird migration, this festival is held over 2 days during which participants from each of the four districts of Montalcino compete in an archery competition. The start is announced by the town crier who also frees a number of thrushes whilst hundreds of residents will add to the atmosphere by dressing up in Medieval costumes and parading through the streets. And, of course, it goes without saying that the traditional dishes of the area also feature prominently. These include wild boar pappardelle, pinci pasta and tomato sauce, roasted quail and much, much more.
The Italians have a canny way of bringing food into pretty much every celebration and festival and this is again true of the annual Festival of the Rooster in Montalcino Camigliano. The Sagra del Galletto is steeped in history, reminiscent as it is of the feasts that have been held in the Camigliano Castle in honour of Montalcino’s Signori since the 14th century. Visitors will find dozens of spit roasted chickens covered in litres of local wine to feast on whilst there are also lots of Medieval style games and festivities to enjoy including the Medieval game of La Druzzola.
Finally, the Festa di San Luca in Impruneta just outside Florence also has origins steeped in history. First mentioned in the 1600s, today’s event is an opportunity to enjoy fairground rides, eat at the food stands and play on the many games.
L’Eroica in Gaiole in Chianti is an annual non competitive cycling event that has been running since 1997. Cyclists that take part are all dressed in vintage cycling outfits or ride historical bikes as they make their way along long stretches of gravel tracks. With five different routes to choose from, stretching from the longest route which is over 200 km long to a shorter route around 50 km long.
Cycling also features in mid October in the Gran Fondo del Brunello which combines mountain biking with the great wines of the Val d’Orcia region.
For those who prefer to stay on foot, Gustatrekking in Massa Marittima is a great opportunity to discover the Tuscan Maremma on foot through a series of walks across October, November and December. Discover the beautiful scenery and foodstuffs of the region at the same time as you walk through fields, vineyards and forests, celebrating the seasonal harvest.
Other festivals in Tuscany
For a break from the food festivals and for something really different, head to the Comic and Games festival in Lucca at the end of October and start of November. The event has been held annually since 1966 and is now the largest games festival in Europe and the second biggest globally. Celebrating everything about cartoons, comics and gaming, it’s a very modern event with a very traditional backdrop.
It’s perhaps not surprising that one of the biggest Halloween celebrations in Tuscany takes place in Borgo a Mozzano, home to the Devil’s Bridge (Ponte del Diavolo). La Notte Nera (The Black Night) is essentially a fantastically imaginative interactive game where groups of 2-5 people become a Vampire Family who have to solve a mystery. Characters will interact with the public to help them solve the riddle… whilst of course also testing their courage and nerve on this scariest of nights. Not surprisingly, the event attracts thousands of families each year.
If all these festivals have convinced you that October is the best time to visit Tuscany, then take a look at the villas in Tuscany available for your next holiday to Italy.