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Saturday, December 10, 2011

I Love Sightseeing Tours of Italy - Tuscany Winter Attractions and Events

English: Piazza Santa Croce with german market...Image via WikipediaI Love Sightseeing Tours of Italy - <a class="zem_slink" href="" title="Tuscany" rel="homepage">Tuscany</a> Winter Attractions and Events
By Levi Reiss

The Tuscany region of central Italy is famous for wine and food. Tuscany is proud of their white truffles, one of the tastiest and most expensive "mushrooms" in the world. On the second, third and fourth weekends November, why not visit La Sagra del Tartufo Bianco (Festival of the White Truffle) in the medieval hilltop town of San Miniato? Besides the food you can enjoy craft displays, theater performances, and marching bands.
You may be able to get a room at the Convento di San Franceso, and have more money to spend on those delicious truffles. San Giovanni d'Asso, near Siena, hosts a truffle festival the second and third weekends of November and is home to a truffle museum open on weekends.
Talking about food, the thousand-year old town of Suvereto holds a ten-day wild boar festival in late November culminating a feast on or about December 8. They showcase other local products such as honey and olive oil. This festival includes historic reenactments, archery competitions and exhibitions, and other costumed medieval competitions. The traditional wines to accompany boar include Tuscany's Brunello di Montalchino and Barolo from neighboring Piedmont.
Florence Noel starts at the end of November and runs through the first week of December. This family event includes children's activities such as visiting Babbo Natale (Father Christmas). Everyone will enjoy the chocolate, food, music, and nativity village. You'll find Tuscan Christmas markets in Florence's Piazza Santa Croce with a German touch, Siena, Lucca's Piazza San Michele, Arezzo, Montepulciano, and Pisa.
Barga, a beautiful medieval hill town in northern Tuscany, holds a living nativity and Christmas pageant on December 23. Abbadia di San Salvatore, near Montalcino, celebrates the Fiaccole di Natale (Festival of Christmas Torches) on Christmas Eve with caroling and torchlight processions.
If you're touring Tuscany in January don't miss Il Palio di Sant'antonio Abate in Buti near Pisa held on the first Sunday after January 17. Festivities start with a procession of people wearing their neighborhood's colors. The afternoon horse race pits local neighborhoods against each other. The winner receives the special banner known as the Palio.
The small town of Vernio hosts a Chestnut Polenta Festival at the end of February or the beginning of March called the Festa della Polenta o "Pulendina". It commemorates the 1512 famine, broken by the local count who gave the people chestnut polenta, cod, and herring. Don't sleep in, at 9 a.m. there is a medieval pageant with over 500 participants along the town streets. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine Tuscan wines including Chianti, Brunello di Montalchino, and Vino Nobile de Montepulciano.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian, French, or other wine, accompanied by the right foods and spend time with his wife and family. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Among his many web sites he is particularly proud of his Italian travel site with a special focus on regional food and wine at Check out his global wine website at with his weekly column reviewing $10 wines and his new sections writing about (theory) and tasting (practice) organic and kosher wines.

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