New Chestnuts

The biggest chestnut festival in Tuscany at Marradi in the Mugello north of Florence ended at the end of last month but in our area these delectable feste are still happening. One of the best, at Lupinaia had been postponed from last week-end because of uncertain weather but with a week of wall-to-wall sunshine we knew it would be a great autumn day when we visited the attractive hill village in the comune of Fosciandora, yesterday.

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The roads are narrow and twisting above the gorge the Serchio makes for itself between Castelnuovo di Garfagnana and Gallicano, and parking places are at a premium. Fortunately, there were four navette (shuttle buses) plying their way to the festa and we didn’t have to wait too long by Fosciandora railway station to catch one of them.

We’d last been to Lupinaia several years ago. All the familiar features of a chestnut festa were still there.

The stalls selling a variety of handicrafts and local ‘slow foods:

An exhibit in the local hall, this time poignantly displaying photographs showing how the First World War (it’s the centenary of Italy’s entry in that war this year) impacted on the area.

Sadly, for such a small village, twenty six of its young men never returned from the slaughter.

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The armaments factory in Fornaci di Barga

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Writing home (that is if you’d learnt to write)

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Mass before going over the top

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The war fronts

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Some of the Lupinaia fallen

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A soldier from Lupinaia

There was duo of flute/harp and guitar playing and singing Celtic inspired songs:

There were stalls selling products made from the local chestnut flour. We opted for a neccio (chestnut flour pancake) with a filling of ricotta cheese and Nutella – delicious!

The afternoon was quite heavenly. There was an increasingly golden glow settling on the surrounding landscape with its soft forests and jagged Apuan mountain peaks. And it was warm!

Eventually we tore ourselves away from the festa – this time we had to wait a bit longer for the navetta as the crowds had increased considerably.

By this time the silhouettes of the mountains encircling Lupinaia had become quite magical:

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