Last week Angela and I ventured into the hills to find a “festa of the hills” or a celebration of life in medieval times. Once outside of Lucca, we began climbing up narrow winding roads, up to the clouds it seemed. The vistas took my breath away.
Now this is the Tuscany I had envisioned. Grandiose villas interspersed with burnt orange vineyards, olive trees bursting with fruit, ranging from deep purple to olive green, ancient stone towers poking up here and there and just a peaceful greeness overall if that makes sense.
Tuscan vistas. A little hazy but still stunning.
Angela and her pup Gilda sharing a smile.
After twisting and turning for half an hour, we spot a hand carved sign for A Colli Festa pointing up a walkway to the small villa of St. Pietro a Marcigliano.
At the entrance a woman hands us fresh bread drizzled with her homemade olive oil with a sprinkling of salt. Such a kind welcome.
Up the road men and woman in period costume show children how to shoot a wooden bow and arrow.
Next to them I watch a game of eye-hand coordination. A nut rolls down a wooden slide as a villager uses a mallet in an attempt to squash the nut at the end before it escapes to the ground.
The cobblestone streets are crowded with local artisans displaying their crafts from carved olive bowls to hand- woven baskets.
Torta Verdura or Torta co’bbecchi
This crowd favorite is a traditional Lucca torte made with Swiss Chard, spices, liquor- infused raisins, candied oranges and pine nuts. Even though it is green, it is served as a dessert. I learned he recipe in a cooking class here and will post it when I return.
What’s a festa without the hot mulled wine?
The beginnings of one of my favorites – fried pasta! The dough is rolled thick and cut into rectangles.
Into the oil it goes, puffing and rising to the top as it browns.
Pasta frittam. Tossed in salt. Yum! This sort of ” donut” is delicious and reminiscent of Indian fry bread.
It’s a family affair.
The longest line is for the roasted chestnuts served warm in paper triangles. The six gentlemen manning the open fires are in their element, tossing the baskets of nuts in the air, catching them, then shaking them over the fire.
My favorite roaster to watch! Don’t you love his tossle of hair?
The party heats up as the sun goes down. All age ranges are mingling, laughing and celebrating life.
I love being a part of Italian living!