The Chestnut Train to Marradi

 

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Arriving in Marradi

Marradi is a small village of 3,500 located 28 miles northeast of Florence and quite near the Tuscan border with the Emilia-Romagna region. Several trains will transport you to the Sagra delle Castagne (Chestnut Festival) in Marradi over four Sundays in October. Trenitalia runs additional trains from Florence (Firenze) on these Sundays and a special, historic steam locomotive runs (treni a vapori) from select cities on different Sundays.

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Chestnut Festival in Marradi

The festival has activities spread throughout the town in seven different locations. There are stands selling different types of delicious pasta, food, cakes and jams made with chestnuts and chestnut products.  This year, the post office has commissioned a special cancellation stamp for everything mailed from Marradi during the festival period. So if you decide to give this festival a try, bring your postcards to mail for an extra special touch.

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Roasting Chestnuts

Free from the tourist crush of nearby Florence, the Mugello region is north of Florence and was first settled by a Ligurian tribe named Magelli, hence the name Mugello.  The countryside is a lush valley of rolling hills and home to many Villas, including Villa Demidoff in Vaglia, Palazzo dei Vicari in Scarperia and the two historic Medici Villas: Villa Medicea di Cafaggiolo in Barberino di Mugello and Villa Medicea del Trebbio near San Piero a Sieve.

INFORMATION

Marradi Pro Loco Event Information

Strada del Marrone

ABOUT

Lisa M. Vogele is the author of Food & Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals,  a travel reference guide that “helps you go local” by incorporating festivals into your travel planning. You can find out more information at Lisa’s Travel Guides.

PHOTO CREDITS

Roasting Chestnuts  Adolfo Monti via Foter.com / CC BY

Arriving in Marradi   Antonio Martinetti via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
Chestnut Festival in Marradi   NeeextVJ via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
Chestnuts in Boxes   Zebra48bo via Wikimedia Commons
Chestnut Products   Zebra48bo via Wikimedia Commons
@visitmugello
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Wine and Chestnuts with A Volcano View

Etna Eruption July 30, 2011; Photo credit: gnuckx / Foter.com / CC BY
Etna Eruption July 30, 2011; Photo credit: gnuckx / Foter.com / CC BY

Zafferana Etnea is a town on the eastern slopes of Mount Etna in the Catania province of Sicily. Etna is Europe’s highest active volcano and dominates the landscape of Eastern Sicily. This weekend the hamlet of Sarro within Zafferana Etnea is hosting their 25th annual wine and chestnut festival as part of their Feast of San Martino. Wine and chestnuts are the ritual food and drink to celebrate St. Martin and during Roman times chestnuts were eaten by shepherds and referred to as “Jupiter’s acorns”.

Fresh Chestnuts Photo credit: it1315922 / Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Fresh Chestnuts; Photo credit: it1315922 / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

There is an established tradition of this festival that offers all attendees free pasta and chickpeas but the offerings don’t stop there. On Piazza Padre Russo, the heart of the festivities, from 6:30 pm into the night there will be opportunities to purchase roasted chestnuts, sausage and homemade cakes. In addition, organized games and evening entertainment along with a raffle organized by a non-profit with proceeds benefiting the poor during the upcoming holiday season.

Piazza Zafferana Etnea by Day Photo credit: Leandro's World Tour / Foter.com / <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/
Piazza Zafferana Etnea by Day; The Baroque-Style Chiesa Madre to the Right; Photo credit: Leandro’s World Tour / Foter.com /

The Zafferanesi are resilient, rebuilding their town multiple times after angry eruptions of Etna over several hundred years. The town is a popular stopping off point for tourists on their way to the Park of Etna. Etna’s eruptions have provided very fertile agricultural land that supports the cultivation of grapes, almonds, citrus fruit and a variety of vegetables.

Piazza Zafferana Etnea at Night; Photo credit: Ask@Net / Foter.com / CC BY
Piazza Zafferana Etnea at Night; Photo credit: Ask@Net / Foter.com / CC BY

The nearby town of Sant’Alfio has a huge 2,000-4,000 year old tree called “Castagno dei Cento Cavalli” (the chestnut tree of 1,000 horses). Legend has it that this tree protected Queen Jeanne d’Anjou, Queen of Aragon, and her retinue of 100 knights during a terrible thunderstorm. It is the subject of various songs and poems and had a circumference of 190 feet when its measurement was recorded back in 1790.

Comune di Zafferana Etnea