Mushrooms, chestnuts, chocolate, and truffles dominate the fall’s food, wine and harvest festivals and World Pasta Day is Oct. 23.
Alba (Cuneo/Piemonte). The White Truffle festival is one of the biggest festivals in Italy. A major event is the Tournament of the 100 towers and Palio degli asini. This tradition recalls a 13th century war episode between the towns of Asti and Alba. During a siege of the town, the Asti troops staged a race under the Alba walls. In reply, the Alba people also organized a race but, instead of horses which had been butchered to feed the townspeople, they used donkeys as mounts. A parade in period costume precedes the race.
Galzignano Terme (Padua) - Feast of the Rosary. A procession in historical costume recalls the battle of Lepanto. There is also the palio dei mussi (donkey race).
Assisi (Perugia) - Feast of San Francesco. In the San Francesco and Santa Maria degli Angeli churches, there are religious rites in honor of Italy’s patron saint. Regional and national civic officials participate in a ceremony in which oil is offered for the votive lamp that burns at the saint’s tomb.
Arezzo (near Mt. Chiusidella Verna). Where St. Francis built his sanctuary, there is the L’Offerta del pane e Vino on October 4. In a celebration of the life of St. Francis, the mayor of Chiusi offers monks bread and wine.
Merano (Bolzano). In their grape festival, there is an exhibition and sampling of all the local wines with a parade in folk costumes, floats, bands, folk music, and shows.
In Lodi (S. of Milan), during the first weekend of October, the Palio dei Rioni is staged. This iron horse race involves Lodi’s five neighborhoods and three nearby villages competing in a race of pulling iron horses on wheels. The winner is awarded the El Baston trophy.
Teolo, (Padua), Aritzo (Nuoro, Sardinia), Perloz (Aosta). Chestnut main attractions. Roasted chestnuts are offered to the public and there are various types of entertainment.
Montalcino (Toscana) - Sagra (Feast/Festival) del Tordo. The Feast of the Thrust is a medieval reenactment of an archery tournament. The neighborhoods of Montalcino compete.
Cremona – Torrone Festival. Cremona claims to be the birthplace of the Italian nougat, torrone. A document dated Oct. 25, 1441 suggests that torrone was made for a wedding banquet in Cremona. During the festival between October 23-24, the historic wedding is recreated and, of course, everyone enjoys torrone.
Perugia continues to be the chocolate lover’s paradise and the city is famous for its Perugina Baci chocolates. Mid-October is a time for celebration.
Other festivals include the International Accordion Festival in Castelfidardo (Ancona/Marche), the 4-day Balloon Festival in Mat era and the costume parties on All Saints Eve (Semblance of Halloween motif with chilling displays of mummies and bones).