Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

San Miniato Truffle Festival

You might be thinking...isn't five days enough time to spend at a truffle festival?

Well, no, it isn't. You can never spend enough time with truffles.

Today Paalo and I head off to a small hilltop town called San Miniato for the start of the their 3 weekend Truffle Festival - XXXVII Mostra Mercato Nazionale del Tartufo Bianco di San Miniato.

The train is on the Pisa line and from Florence SMN station you will get there in about 40 minutes if you select the right train. Once in San Miniato things are a little less clear. From what I could gather from the signs, the bus route has been shortened and stops suspended and will only take you as far as Piazza Dante Alighieri.

You can buy bus tickets from the Tobacconist opposite the train station if the shopkeeper ever gets off the phone. The bus you need to take leaves from in front of the train station and you can buy tickets on board - they will cost €1.50 each way.

Piazza Dante Alighieri on Saturday is the site of an arts and craft market and to get to the festival you'll have to go up the road, the Corso Garabaldi.

The first stop was the Piazza del Poppoli where we found two information offices and maps of the town as well as information about the festival and the programme of events.

While orientating ourselves we stepped inside the church here, Chiesa dei Santi Jacopo e Lucia

80DSC_6292.jpg

80DSC_6288.jpg

80DSC_6287.jpg 80DSC_6285.jpg

The programme shows us the various sites set out around the city and associated themes. The stalls set up on the Piazza del Popolo are designated for the Slow Food Presidium and products from San Miniato's sister cities.

80DSC_6319.jpg

The stalls here are still being set up - it is the first day after all!

Right next door are the Cloisters of San Domenico where the theme is San Miniato e Le Città amiche delle Colline Sanminiastesi - here you'll find speciality products from the San Miniato region

80DSC_6295.jpg

Here we found things like honey, wine, oil, milk, cheese and baked items.

Using the map, we continued past here towards Palazzo Grifoni.

80DSC_6302.jpg

80DSC_6303.jpg

80DSC_6304.jpg 80DSC_6306.jpg 80DSC_6311.jpg

You may think by looking at the photos that the streets looked quite empty and peaceful but it was anything but that. The traffic was quite chaotic as these narrow streets are two way! People trying to carry on their normal Saturday morning routine competing with the added festival traffic.

80DSC_6317.jpg

This is the Palazzo Grifoni built in the 16th Century by Giuliano di Baccio d'Agnolo for Ugolino Grifoni.

80DSC_6314.jpg

Grifoni means Griffin which is obvious when you see the crest.

80DSC_6316.jpg

While nothing is on today here, according to the programme here you'll find flowers, plants and fruit on Sundays.

We turn back on ourselves here and head off to see the other marked areas.

There's a little area off this main road that isn't specifically listed by does have a few stalls

80DSC_6320.jpg

80DSC_6322.jpg

We get our first sniff of truffles here and a good view of the area too.

80DSC_6327.jpg

80DSC_6323.jpg

The next large area we reach is the Piazza del Seminario dominated by the highly decorated Seminario Vescovile (1622)

80DSC_6330.jpg 80DSC_6329.jpg

80DSC_6334.jpg

80DSC_6339.jpg

80DSC_6340.jpg 80DSC_6338.jpg

The stalls here offer oil, wine, meats, cured products, baked items as well as items incorporating truffles.

80DSC_6331.jpg 80DSC_6332.jpg

80DSC_6335.jpg

80DSC_6489.jpg

80DSC_6478.jpg

80DSC_6484.jpg 80DSC_6488.jpg

80DSC_6483.jpg

80DSC_6479.jpg 80DSC_6341.jpg

This porchetta particularly attracts us and we buy a porchetta roll to sustain us as we continue to explore the area

0-10112007598.jpg

Nourished we head up these stairs

80DSC_6337.jpg

to reach the Piazza del Duomo.

80DSC_6459.jpg

80DSC_6372.jpg

where you'll find the Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta e San Genesio. Dating from the 12th century it has been modified in the 15th and 16th centuries. A castle tower was modified to form its campanile.

80DSC_6379.jpg

Inside it is quite splendid.

80DSC_6346.jpg

80DSC_6349.jpg 80DSC_6351.jpg

80DSC_6353.jpg

80DSC_6356.jpg 80DSC_6354.jpg

80DSC_6357.jpg 80DSC_6366.jpg

80DSC_6360.jpg 80DSC_6362.jpg 80DSC_6363.jpg

80DSC_6367.jpg

There are two festival areas here - one set of tents in front of the Duomo house truffle and truffle products as well as oil and wine and another set of tents is a dining area where various outdoor kitchens have been set up.

80DSC_6500.jpg

80DSC_6458.jpg

These are the truffle tents

80DSC_6382.jpg

80DSC_6386.jpg

Almost immediately we notice that the white truffles especially are of a much better size than we experienced last week. Obviously better weather conditions in Tuscany has helped.

80DSC_6387.jpg

There are many more medium to large sized white truffles on offer.

80DSC_6395.jpg

80DSC_6396.jpg

80DSC_6388.jpg 80DSC_6391.jpg

80DSC_6392.jpg 80DSC_6393.jpg

80DSC_6389.jpg 80DSC_6394.jpg

80DSC_6440.jpg

That has to be one of the largest black truffle we've ever seen!

80DSC_6442.jpg

The hand gives you a better idea on the size of these large white truffles.

80DSC_6454.jpg 80DSC_6453.jpg

80DSC_6452.jpg

80DSC_6450.jpg

These are tents in the dining area

80DSC_6381.jpg

While they are still setting up now when we return later in the day the area has livened up with the kitchens now working

80DSC_6496.jpg

80DSC_6497.jpg

80DSC_6498.jpg

To one side of this area is the Santuario del SS. Crocifisso

80DSC_6401.jpg

and a pathway that leads up to La Rocca

80DSC_6471.jpg

The tower you see in the background was originally built by Federico II in the 13th century. It was destroyed during WWII but subsequently rebuilt.

80DSC_6438.jpg

From this path that leads up to La Rocca we get a nice view of the land

80DSC_6408.jpg

80DSC_6413.jpg

We decide not to go all the way to the top but instead visit the Santuario

80DSC_6428.jpg 80DSC_6432.jpg

80DSC_6431.jpg

80DSC_6419.jpg

80DSC_6426.jpg 80DSC_6422.jpg 80DSC_6427.jpg

80DSC_6420.jpg

With 1pm approaching and the food stalls not yet operating we decide to stop for lunch at one of the town's restaurants - we chose to dine at Pepenero.

This is quite a funky restaurant with gorgeous views over the valley.

0-10112007599.jpg

For starters:

0-10112007600.jpg

My Choice: Carpaccio di Angus argentino marinato alle erbe fini (Carpaccio of Argentine Angus marinated in fine herbs) - Excellent beef served as thin rectangles, it almost dissolves in the mouth.

0-10112007601.jpg

Paalo's Choice: Cartoccio di Formaggio e Tartufo Bianco di San Miniato (Package of Cheese and White Truffle of San Miniato)

0-10112007602.jpg

Such a simple idea but wow what impact - when you open the package you are immediately hit with that wonderful aroma of white truffle. There's a blend of cheese used including a little gorgonzola.

We started with two glasses of Prosecco but also order a bottle of Pietro Beconcini Reciso 1999 - a straight Sangiovese from the San Miniato region.

0-10112007603.jpg 0-10112007604.jpg

Onto mains:

0-10112007606.jpg

My Choice: La Cinta Sinese, il carne disossato con salsa di Castagne (Boned Cinta Sinese with a sauce of Chestnuts)

0-10112007607.jpg

Having had cinta sinese sausages in florence, I was really interested in tasting the pure meat. This was pork but with such a unique and amazing taste. It was a fairly dense cylinder of meat but it was still moist and tender.

0-10112007608.jpg

Paalo's Choice: Filetto di Suino al Pepe rosa e TartufoBianco Samminiatese (Pork Fillet with Pink Pepper and White Truffle)

Yes, Paalo had the truffle double and he even enjoyed those chickpeas which is saying alot!

We also ordered insalta mista to have with our mains

0-10112007605.jpg 0-10112007609.jpg

We were so impressed with the restaurant so far we ordered dessert

0-10112007613.jpg

My choice: Ricotta Torta with White and Red Currants and Caramel Sauce

0-10112007612.jpg

The ricotta torta was light and fluffy and the caramel sauce provided a good foil to the slightly tart currants.

0-10112007610.jpg

Paalo's Choice: "Cheese Caramel" - similiar to a creme caramel

We must say that this was one of the stand out meals of this trip and what a surprise to have experienced it here in this small hilltop town. This would easily make it to our must visit restaurants and we're gladly just come to San Miniato to eat here.

Well satisfied, we ventured around the festival for one final visit before heading back to Florence.

80DSC_6495.jpg

80DSC_6502.jpg



80DSC_6503.jpg

80DSC_6509.jpg

It is odd to see elevators out in the middle of nowhere but they are vital for getting people quickly from the lower level carparks to the top of the town.

The road in which we first came up is now filled with food vans, most of which seem to be selling oh-so-tempting sweets

80DSC_6513.jpg

80DSC_6514.jpg

as we pass van upon van I can feel our resolve slipping

80DSC_6515.jpg

80DSC_6516.jpg 80DSC_6518.jpg

80DSC_6519.jpg

80DSC_6520.jpg

80DSC_6521.jpg

80DSC_6527.jpg

Our resolve finally cracks here with the Brigidini and we buy a packet of these fennel flavoured wafers.

80DSC_6528.jpg

As we finally reach Piazza Dante Alighieri, the craft market is still on but we don't really look around as the bus to take us back to the station is waiting.

0-10112007615.jpg

We've actually timed it quite well and it's less than a 10 minute wait for the train to take us back to Florence. We arrive back tired but extremely happy - this was a trip well worth making.

If you happen to be somewhere near Tuscany, the festival continues on the 17th/18th November and the 24th/25th November.

For all photos check out the Flickr set: San Miniato Truffle Festival

0 comments:

Post a comment

We appreciate your comments however spam, abusive or libelous comments will be removed.