Sardinia has long been known for its extensive Mediterranean coastline of sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. In the summer, these beaches serve as an escape for the rich and famous, visitors and locals. But Sardinia (Sardegna in Italian) is more than just beaches. Like other parts of Italy, Sardinia is home to archaeology sites, fabulous sheep’s milk cheeses, and wine production.
Piazza Martiro in Milis
Villa Pernis in Milis
Milis is a village of less than 2,000 people on the Campidano plain, just inland from the west coast city of Oristano. This weekend, Milis is hosting a wine festival accompanied by the “Taste of Street Food” with stands of local foods offered at very reasonable prices. The “Rassegna Vini Novelli Sardegna” (Review of New Sardinian Wines) is an event that promises “a good opportunity to combine culture, wine, food and fun.”
One of my all-time favorite books about Italy and Italian cuisine is Fred Plotkin’s “Italy for the Gourmet Traveler” detailing specialty food, wine and fun facts about each region. It’s a must-have bookshelf item for every Italophile and foodie. Mr. Plotkin summarizes several wines/grapes in his chapter on Sardinia and recommends keeping in mind “Cannonau and Vermentino” when seeking out local vino to try. Go beyond the beach, and explore all Sardinia has to offer.
It’s my favorite weekend of the year in beautiful Snowmass Village, Colorado. Balloons, wine & Ferraris! As I sit on my deck with this awesome view of the balloons, the aspens have started to turn their autumn gold with hints of red here and there. The crisp fall air is perfect for being outside and enjoying all that Snowmass Village has to offer.
The weather is forecasted to be perfect for all three mornings that the balloons are scheduled to take flight. Friday morning is a balloon race down the brush creek valley, Saturday is an “x marks the spot” competition and Sunday the thirty balloons will be floating throughout the village. Saturday night is a special balloon glow in the base village when a kaleidoscope of colors will light up the night sky.
Tonight the Snowmass Wine Festival begins via a dinner pairing Sicilian wines with food prepared by the Viceroy Hotel kitchen. Tomorrow afternoon is the Grand Tasting event with local restaurants serving bite-sized portions of their tasty specialties and wineries/importers from Colorado and beyond offering a sampling of all types of wines. Outside of the event, a Ferrari car show will be on display. It’s great fun with lots of locals and visitors participating. For visitors, a side trip to the Aspen Farmers Market on Saturday and Maroon Bells on Sunday rounds out a spectacular fall weekend. Snowmass Village, Colorado… lucky to live here!
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”.
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.
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.
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.
Bardolino is a municipality northwest of Verona in the Veneto region and located on the eastern shore of Lake Garda. Starting yesterday, the town is hosting a 5 day festival dedicated to grapes and wine. The festival is in its 86th year, is well organized and easy to find. Stands serving food are open from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM each week day and 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday. With stands serving various pastas, meats and cakes there is something for everyone’s tastes. Musical acts performing each afternoon and evening range from folk music to country. There are guided tours and historical parades on the weekend and a fireworks display at 11:00 PM on Sunday October 4th. While in town for the festival check out the old city walls dating to the 12th century, the medieval crypt in the Church of San Severo and the Museo Sisan which is dedicated to bird hunting and fishing of the Lake Garda region.