Location – San Miniato Truffle Fair (Various dates in November)
The first time I tried truffle I wasn’t all that impressed – it smelled really strongly of gas and looked pretty gross. I remember thinking that people must like it because it’s rare and exclusive. It only took a few more tastes though before I was hooked – that stuff really grows on you! Or not, as the case may be, because truffles are a fungus and this is what makes them so rare – you can’t cultivate them and you need trained dogs or pigs to sniff them out. On top of that they seem to only be found in certain areas of Italy and France, and a very few on the West Coast of the US.
One of these areas is the beautiful countryside around San Miniato in Tuscany, where they hold a truffle fair every November. If you’ve ever thought, ‘I like this [insert food stuff], but it would be better with truffle’ – you’ll find it here..cheeses, salamis, hams etc. These are found in the stalls in the lower part of the old town, where you then you work your way up to the the top part with its breathtaking view overlooking the Tuscan countryside. The view is reserved for the special stalls – they literally have red velvet carpeting – to showcase the don of the truffles: the white truffle. These are weighed on chrome scales and if you’re really keen on them – you can take them away with you for about $200+ per 100g. We bought a tiny piece and had it with butter and parmesan tagliatelle that night. So so good!
Italy has all types of food fairs year-round and nationwide. They call them Sagras and they can be devoted to anything from cherries, fish, tagliatelle, pumpkin ravioli.. anything really. I’ve had some of my best meals with sporks and plastic plates at these fairs. As a bonus they’re usually held in the pretty piazzas of old, picturesque towns. All the English sites only seem to have dates for the big food expos but this translatable Italian one is pretty good.
Tights – Topshop; Jacket – H&M; Skirt – Liu Jo; Boots – Ralph Lauren, I also like these Laboutin ones; Shirt – Pepe Jeans Andy Warhol collection; Bag – Braccialini.
Location – San Miniato, Tuscany
Of all the places I’ve lived in and travelled to in the world, I know that Tuscany is the place where I’m going to end up; hopefully in a house like the one in Under the Tuscan Sun, with fountains and cypress trees all around it. I’m even willing to have a bird poop on my head if that’s what it takes (That’s not totally random, you have to see the film.) Not only is Tuscany aesthetically beautiful – think rolling olive groves steeped in mist and beautiful crumbling Renaissance buildings – but I find the lifestyle and its emphasis on family time, food and togetherness beautiful too. It’s a stereotype I suppose but I can only speak for my own loud Italian family and their
obsession with emphasis on delicious meals and family gatherings. In case you hadn’t guessed – that’s my lovely nonna in one of the pics!
Lots of people know about the famous Tuscan towns – Florence, Lucca, Siena – but the fact is that there are so many old towns and hamlets dotted throughout Tuscany that are all so beautiful. They all invariably have picturesque piazzas, old churches and of course restaurants worth visiting. This town where I took the pictures for example is not particularly touristy, except for a few days maybe during the Truffle Festival (next post), but it’s one of my favourite places in the world. (Also my boyfriend’s, who has his eye on a church there :):):)) If I were visiting Tuscany for the first time I would rent out a car and take the country routes to as many pretty towns as I had time to see, taking unscheduled stops on the way. Elena Nacci has a really good shortlist of less touristy places to visit in Tuscany.
Tuscany is also famous for its manufacturing and artisanal goods. Some of the most famous designer brands originate here – Gucci, Prada, etc. The bag I’m wearing in the pictures is by popular Italian label Braccialini and is also based in Florence. They make really cute and unique designs and I would gladly own every single one of their bags. I love how they can make a dark winter outfit really pop.