Thursday, November 11, 2010

Citta di Castello Truffle Festival

About five years ago we came to this area (at least the same general area) with a whole posse of folks: my mom, and pals Jeremy and Megan, KT and Ed, and Joel and Alexa. We stayed just over the hill from where we are now, at a large lovely stone house that sadly isn’t available for rent any more (though many more spots are—check out Amici Villas for options), and had a scrumptious time as usual. It was in the fall, about this time of year, when we were here, and one of the reasons we all made the trip at that point was to be here during the Citta di Castello truffle festival (the earth spirit mushroom, not the sweet). Sadly, somewhat like Nat and I’s recent trip to Montone for Festa di Bosco, we got there fairly early, in the early afternoon, and while we had some truffle fun, we missed out on the full experience. This year, I wanted to be sure we got our truffle festival on, and so last Saturday we didn’t head to Citta until about 6 (or 18:00). We came in by the Duomo, and instantly were walking through tents packed with people selling cheeses, local products, tirelli, meats, and more. Walking out of the tents and into the square around the Duomo was almost psychedelic—the side of the Duomo was bathed in purple:
and there was a camera attached to Duomo projecting 15 feet tall emblems for country, commune, and city:
By the by, there was an amazing number of people there, with streets around the center and Duomo packed, as if everyone from Citta (which is a solid mid-sized city) as well as the surrounding towns and farms had come out at once. It was also dark, so taking photos wasn’t as simple as you’d expect. This was really Italians at their most communal, with many folks dressed up, and kids of all ages running around, from high schoolers preening to youngsters screaming with delight. Once we got to the centro, there was a big grouping of booths all selling truffles, truffle products, and other mushroom-y delights. The smell was amazing, like being in rich, delicious, earth. We picked up a number of mushroom and truffle goodness, including:
Oh, we also, before browsing the truffle stands, stopped at another little stand for a glass of caniola. We’re not exactly sure what it is, but it’s usually served out of casks (though we saw people pouring into the casks from bottles, and there is no aging here) and tastes like wine Koolaid, with a little frizzante (or, a touch like jungle punch, depending on which stand you purchase from). But a glass is just 1 euro, and it’s certainly fun to walk around with on a cold night. There were side rooms in some of the buildings around the center for wine tastings, and olive oil tasting, and gluten free products, and a sit down dinner, and a big main stage where Italian chefs were doing cooking demos that were projected on big screens. We walked through it all, snacking and sipping, and then slipped down a side street to get away from the bustle a bit, when, out of nowhere, we were almost in the middle of a medieval parade, with knights, cross-bowers, maidens, monks, and more:
The parade (with us trailing it) wound back into the center, where the master of ceremonies (dressed to the renaissance nines) made a speech of welcome and praise of truffles (at least I think he said something like that—or I made it up, since I couldn’t completely understand him. Maybe he actually said “please don’t drink too much” or “two hour parking only.” He talked fast). It was a bustling, flavorsome evening, and I’m glad this time we were able to fully immerse ourselves in the festival experience (even though it was a little bitter sweet, as I wished we could have had the same pals as before with us).

1 comment:

  1. Although Veteran's Day observances and NPR stories always move me, and I did do a special Worldwide Meditation for the Earth at ll p.m. on ll-ll, and I loved getting a longer phone call from AJ on Veteran's Day, I think I'd trade it all for another trip to the Truffle Festival. I loved it last year and hearing about it again made me very nostalgic. And hungry. It just reminds me of MiddleEarth and hobbits and The Fellowship somehow--the parade in costume looked a bit like something out of the Rings, from what I could see. Thanks for sharing it.