Italy's cuisine is rightly world-famous.

25 Sep 2019

Gruppo UNA

The tasty variety of Italian fall foods means that autumn is no exception. Try these top 5 unexpected ingredients to get the most out of your trip in autumn.

Dining in Venice

1. Mushrooms.

A stroll around just about any Italian market will yield a bewildering selection of mushrooms that are fresher and more flavoursome than any of those sold in supermarkets at home.

Every year, a medieval village in Campania throws a wonderful festival, the Sagra Dei Funghi. Despite being hidden in the hills of Benevento, Cusano Mutri attracts visitors from across Italy. These visitors come both for the enchanting setting of cobbled streets framed by ancient buildings as well as for the food.

While porcini mushrooms are the undoubted star of the festival, truffles, chestnuts and other local produce also feature in abundance. UNAHOTELS Napoli in the regional capital of Naples is an excellent base for a visit to the Sagra Dei Funghi.

2. Chestnuts.

Whether roasted from a roadside stall, baked into bread or cooked into risotto, soup or pasta sauce, chestnuts are one of the most popular foods to eat in Italy during the autumn.

Mentioned in the writings of both Virgil and Homer, the chestnut has a long and illustrious history in Italy. The chestnut trees in northern Tuscany's Mugello region benefit from special protected status from the EU, while Sicily is home to what is reputed to be the world's oldest and biggest chestnut tree, Il Castagno dei Cento Cavalli.

3. Wild Boar.

Autumn ushers in hunting season, and although a variety of game meats are popular across the country, wild boar is at the top of many people's list of must-eat delicacies. It is eaten across much of Italy, but there is nowhere better to go to enjoy it than Tuscany. 

A first stop might be Florence to admire Il Porcellino, a large bronze statue of a wild boar that is said to bring good luck. Florence itself has any number of superb restaurants in which to enjoy local specialities such as Tortello maremmano, a ricotta and spinach-filled ravioli, which is often accompanied by a sauce made from succulent wild boar.

The wider Tuscan region is also home to a number of important food festivals, and wild boar holds a special place at many of them. In November, Chianni, in Pisa, puts on a splendid wild boar feast, when the meat is cooked with green olives and enjoyed with some of the region's best vino novello. The idyllic and very private Fattoria Santo Stefano is well-located for trips to Pisa and surrounding areas.

4. Pumpkins.

Many of the best Italian recipes for fall involve the humble pumpkin. Forget carving it up for jack o' lanterns and imagine, instead, savoury roasted pumpkin risottos flavoured with sage, Parmigiano Reggiano and white wine. Alternatively, little pasta parcels stuffed with pumpkin or squash are popular.

The locals in Venzone, a hamlet in the north-east of the country that was once voted Italy's most beautiful village, take their pumpkin celebrations very seriously.  As well as competitions for the best locally-grown squashes and pumpkins and the opportunity to try some of the produce, their annual pumpkin festival even includes fire-eaters.

Fall fruits and vegetables

5. Grapes.

It is almost impossible to talk about Italy without mentioning its grapes. September is the month when many of the country's vineyards harvest their crops in what is known as the vendemmia. As well as the chance to relax while watching the harvesters at work in places such as Scansano, the vendemmia is also a time when locals and visitors alike come together to enjoy lively food and drink festivals.

The Festa delle Cantine in the Tuscan town of Manciano is a joyful celebration of the grape harvest. As well as the chance to see inside the wine cellars that are normally closed to visitors and, of course, to sample some of the wines themselves, the cellars also sell special tasting dishes. Most are local delicacies, such as almond biscuits, and follow traditional local Italian autumn recipes.

Enjoy Autumn Flavours in Italy with Gruppo UNA.

A fall trip to Italy with Gruppo UNA provides the perfect chance to savour old culinary favourites and discover new ones. With resorts, villas and hotels in 19 destinations across the country, wherever you want to go and whatever food you fancy trying, we are perfectly placed to help you.

Delve into our comprehensive range of articles to find useful tips and ideas to help you plan where to find the best foods to eat in Italy during autumn.