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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In Florence Today! St. John & Historic Soccer

It’s a fun-filled day here in Florence with history, pageantry and spectacle! This morning started with the religious procession honoring St. John the Baptist. Beginning in Piazzetta di Parte Guelfa to the Duomo to pick up additional participants, then to Piazza Signoria by via Caiuroli. Part of the group entered the Palazzo Vecchio to pick up candles while the sbandieratori (flag-throwers) entertained the crowd with their skills outside. The Procession continued, tracing their steps back to the Duomo for the candle ceremony followed by Mass.

There’s another, larger parade this afternoon starting at 4pm at Piazza Santa Maria Novella and ending at Piazza Santa Croce. This parade includes the Calcio Storico Fiorentino (aka Florentine Football) players and is followed by the final match of 2016 at 5pm. While researching my book, Food and Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals,  the American television shown 60 minutes on CBS featured a clip on this historical and brutal sport (scroll down for a link to the clip). It’s called Calcio, the Italian word for soccer, but is it really? It looks more like a mix of soccer, football, rugby and mixed martial arts slugged out on the sand-filled square of Piazza Santa Croce

9076330480_79e2e2b777_zOriginating in the 16th century, it was once the sport of rich nobles who played every night between Epiphany and Lent. Official rules were drafted and recorded in a Florentine court in 1580 by Giovanni de’ Bardi. Team members from four quartiere (neighborhood) in Florence take this quite seriously. The neighborhoods and their colors are:

  • Blues (Azzurri) – Santa Croce
  • Rossi (Reds) – Santa Maria Novella
  • Whites (Bianchi) – Santo Spirito
  • Greens (Verdi) – San Giovanni

9587293798_bc95cd98fb_bTwenty seven players on each team are half-clad in historical uniforms for the occasion. Each neighborhood is allowed to recruit players from outside the neighborhood and even outside of Italy. There are two semifinals played two weeks before the final on June 24th of each year, which coincides with St. John the Baptist day. Who plays who in the semifinals is decided Easter weekend when colored balls are drawn to determine the semi-final match ups. This year’s final (tonight) features the blues (azzurri) against the whites (bianchi). Tickets sold out in 10 minutes flat!

P1030452Hands and feet can be used, anything goes except sucker punches and ganging up on your opponent; strictly one on one combat – and if you are kicked out – no replacements are allowed, your team plays short of members. A goal (caccia) is scored by hurling the ball over the netting at each end of the sand playing field through a narrow opening guarded by 4 goal tenders. At the end of 50 minutes, the most goals wins! What does the winning team get for their blood, guts and glory? A palio (banner) and a free dinner; in the past it was a Chianina cow. There is no monetary compensation for the winners, only bragging rights for a year. The festivities will conclude this evening at 10 pm with a spectacular fireworks show over the Arno.

A film to be released on September 16, 2016 Lost in Florence (working title was The Tourist), featuring actor Brett Dalton of the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He plays a college football player who joins in on the action of the Calcio Storico Fiorentino and becomes embroiled in both love and love of the sport.

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

IN THE NEWS

60 Minutes Video about the Calcio Storico Fiorentino

PHOTO CREDITS

All parade photos by Lisa M. Vogele
Calcio Players Romana Correale via Foter.com / CC BY-ND
Calcio Field Piazza Santa Croce alexandraalisa via Foter.com / CC BY

 

 

 

 

 

 

gelato! Gelato! GELATO!

If you missed out on Rome’s big birthday bash yesterday, never fear, Gelato is here!  What a more perfect way to ring in spring than a stroll through Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence with a gelato in hand.  This weekend is the start of the traveling Gelato Festival.  Held at various locations throughout Italy and Europe, it’s a must-do for iced treat aficionados.  The festival kicks off this weekend in Florence and then has stops in: Parma, Rome, Naples, Turin, Milan, London, Berlin and Valencia before returning to Florence in September.

Have you always wondered what the difference is between gelato and ice cream? In general, gelato is lower in fat, lower in calories and contains less air than ice cream. The reduction of air gives it a dense, creamy goodness that makes you think you’ve died and gone to heaven. The sugar content is higher than typical ice cream, one of the keys that keep it from freezing solid.  If you’re serious about gelato and would like to open your own shop, you can attend Gelato University at the Carpigiani Gelato University and museum in Bologna, Italy to get your basics down.  Serious about gelato, but not that serious, Carpigiani’s flagship store is located just outside their administrative offices and museum where you can sample a variety of flavors served up by students attending the Gelato University.  Carpigiani has also started offering week-long courses in the United States; check out the link below for their calendar and course offerings.

Can’t make it to Europe? You are in luck! A Gelato World Tour is coming to Chicago, Illinois Memorial Day Weekend.  Sixteen artisanal gelato competitors will be competing for the North American Gelato Title at Millenium Park May 27-May 29.  This is both an industry and public event where hands-on workshops will be offered.  Three finalists will also travel to Rimini in 2017 to compete for “Worlds Best Flavor”. There will also be a West Coast stop in September, location and dates are to be announced.  Follow the links below for information and logistics to attend these two tasty events.

Gelato Festival (Florence, Italy & Europe)

Carpigiani Gelato University

Carpigiani Gelato Museum

Gelato World Tour (including Chicago)

Photo Credits
Gelato with Wafer: Bekathwia via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Two Cups of Gelato: B.Positive.2014 via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Gelato Cone: erickgonzalez50 via Foter.com / CC BY-ND
 Piazzale Michelangelo Florence View Photos (all): Lisa M. Vogele
Carpigiani Gelato Musum, Tour & Flagship Store: Aidan M. Vogele, Mark R. Vogele & Lisa M. Vogele

500 Years of Florentine Fireworks

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Oxen Decorated with Flowers

Daytime fireworks, pageantry and excitement surround the centuries old Florentine tradition of Scoppio del Carro.  If you’re in Italy during “Holy Week” you will encounter Easter-related activities in progress in cities and small towns.  Of the many traditions that take place this weekend, the 500-year Florentine Scoppio del Carro is one of the most well-known.  “Scoppio del Carro” literally means explosion of the cart.  A 30-foot-tall antique cart called a Brindellone, also several hundred years old, is hauled by a team of oxen decorated with garlands of spring flowers.  150 people in 15th century dress escort the cart from Porta al Prato to Piazza del Duomo every Easter morning.

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Costumed Procession for Scoppio del Carro

Easter Mass is held inside the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence’s Duomo) and at 10:00 AM a fire is lit using three flints brought back from Jerusalem during the First Crusade.  While the ceremony continues inside, the Brindellone is loaded with fireworks and staged outside the door of the cathedral.  A wire from the altar inside is connected to the cart and at 11:00 AM the ceremony reaches its crescendo.  Gloria in Excelsis Deo is sung, a mechanical dove is lit on fire and then it flies down the wire into the cart, igniting the fireworks.  The fireworks display lasts approximately 20 minutes and a successful execution guarantees a good harvest and business in the coming year.

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Exploding the Cart in Front of Florence’s Duomo

Official Florence Tourism Website – Event Information

https://player.vimeo.com/video/124600802 <p><a href="https://vimeo.com/124600802">Scoppio del Carro</a> from <a href="https://vimeo.com/user35087318">Storm Nylen</a> on <a href="https://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>” target=”_blank”>Scoppio del Carro Video

Photo Credits:
Oxen Decorated with Flowers   www.to-tuscany.com via Foter.com / CC BY-ND
Exploding of the Cart in Front of Florence’s Duomo   moniko moniko via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Costumed Procession for Scoppio del Carro   Erica Schoonmaker via Foter.com / CC BY-ND