In the Garfagnana Valley, at the beginninig of the XX century, still grew 18.000 ha of chestnuts trees. The precious fruits protected by specific laws of the local governments.
Nothing get lost of the chestnut infact. Giovanni Pascoli, a famous Italian poet, choosed to live in the Serchio Valley, dedicated to it a lot of poems and sang the use of the chestnut trees: the wood, the leaves, the young branches, the fruits since even the ashes in an inspirited poem.
Many of the chestnuts trees of the Serchio Valley has respectable ages, some of them even their own names, the Old lady, the Mayor, to recall the confidence that the human population have with these old “hinabitants of the mountains.
The woods were cultivated such as a generous field, and were scenary for many historical happens and legendary tales, inspiration for popular songs and plays, whose tradition is still alive in the “Canto del Maggio” (song of May).
The chestnut wood with its little buildings for the drying of the fruits, the paths, the charcoal kins, is one of the most common landscapes of the region.
The former cultivars are various depending on the ground, the altitude, the exposition of the slopes in the valley, set in between the Appenines and the Apuan Alps with difference in height variable 150 to 1.200 m, on the sea level.
In such a border land as the Garfagnana used to be, the varieties good for flour were the most appreciated ones. They can give food for all the year and especially during the cold months of winter.
Traditionally nourished with a slow burning fire, in the “metato” the chestnut fruits, after some 40 days, takes al the characteristics that will be so appreciated once they are changed into “farina di Neccio della Garfagnana” (chestnuts flour from Garfagnana), nowadays guarantee by the IGP label.
The use of the “farina di neccio” is the most popular and was once used at the place of the grain flour. The contemporary culture of food has given new value to the interesting combinings proposed by the traditional recipts. With the flour cooked in hot water one can prepare a sweet “polenta” to accompany cheese and dressed porc. With the same batter cooked in iron “testi”, direct on the fire, one can prepare tasty pancakes called here “necci”. “Castagnaccio” if cooked in the haven and dressed with rosemary, orange peel, pine nuts and olive oil or even bread and gnocchi with a side of tasty ragout sauce of mashroom.
CHESTNUTS FRUITS WHEN AND WHERE
Adopt a Chestnut tree is a project intended to protect the territory and the mountain landscapes. Adopting a chestnut, you will be offered pleasant and gourmand advantages. See www.associazionecastanicoltori.it
Museum of the chestnut An old stone house in the charming village of Colognora, in the Val di Roggio, is the seat of the Museum. The history of the tree and of the wood in the first Italian dedicated. In October mondine and necci for the visitors. See www.museodelcastagno.it
Town of the chestnuts In the first week of december Castelnuovo Garfagnana becomes the center of a territory and of a culture. Festival with handcraft market, meetings, and taste of necci, frittelle, ballotte, mondine and castagnaccio, of course!. See www.pontineltempo.it
Mondinata in Fosciandora In october, the huge chestnut wood located between the rock of Ceserana and the medioeval walls of Lupinaia people lights the fires in the “metato” and feast the local “bread from the tree”
Mondine and necci and a good glass of wine for all the guests. See www.comune.fosciandora.lu.it
Canto del Maggio In summer the cool shadow of the chestnut trees becomes the scenery of a popular play.
Epic tales of the fight beetween the Evil and the Good, christian knights and arabs of ancient origins nd solid tradition. See www.centrotradizionipopolari.it