The Ultimate Guide To November Events In Tuscany

Tuscany is one of the most beautiful and popular regions in Italy, and it’s also a great place to visit in November. From the stunning autumn foliage to the exciting events and historical landmarks, there’s something for everyone. Here’s a guide to some of the best events held in Tuscany in November.

Festa della Toscana

Tuscany was the first region of the world to abolish the death penalty, on November 30th, 1786. Tuscany Day commemorates this anniversary by promoting human rights, peace, and justice. Throughout the Tuscan region, the Festa includes a series of exhibitions, cinema, theatre, readings, dance, concerts, and other events.

The Festa della Toscana is an important date in the regional calendar and provides an opportunity to reflect on the history and culture of this fascinating part of Italy.

Lucca Comics and Games

If you’re looking for a fun and festive event to attend in Tuscany this November, look no further than Lucca Comics and Games! This annual event is one of the largest comic and gaming conventions in Europe, and it takes place in the beautiful city of Lucca. Whether you’re a fan of comics, video games, cosplay, or simply want to enjoy some great Italian food and wine, there’s something for everyone at this wonderful event.

EatPrato

If you like walking, history, and food, EatPrato is an event that runs through November in the city of Prato, Tuscany. There are guided tours that will take you to the most iconic places in the city, as well as out-of-town walking tours where you can soak up the beautiful scenery. The walking is combined with stops where you can sample some of the best flavours, food and wine of the region.

The National White Truffle Exhibition in San Miniato

Every year, a celebration of the famous white truffle takes place in the charming Tuscan town of San Miniato. The surrounding countryside provides the best conditions for this gourmet delicacy to grow. The largest, record-breaking white truffle was found in 1954, by truffle hunter Arturo Gallerani, and weighed a huge 2,520 kg!

Here you can walk through the large market, full of the flavours and smells of these precious truffles. Set your senses alight by tasting traditional white truffle recipes, shop for traditional Tuscan goods, and participate in events such as truffle hunting.

Autumnia

This fair, dedicated to agriculture, the environment and food, is taking place in Figline and Incisa Valdarno from the 11-13th of November. If you like the idea of a farmer’s market, cooking shows, dog agility, and exhibitors that offer local produce such as vegetables, cheeses, wine, oil and more, then Autumnia is well worth a visit.

With its rolling hills, stunning sunsets and picturesque villages, there’s no wonder why this region of Italy is a popular destination. Even better, there are always events to take part in, no matter what time of year it is. So, if you’re planning a trip for November, put Tuscany at the top of your list and feel free to contact me if you need to brush up on your language skills for when you visit!

Castagnaccio – A Traditional Taste of Tuscany

Have you ever heard of Castagnaccio? If not, you’re in for a treat! Castagnaccio is a traditional Tuscan cake made with chestnut flour, water, olive oil, raisins, and pine nuts. The cake is typically flavoured with rosemary and has a dense, moist texture.

While castagnaccio is a cake, it isn’t particularly sweet. It doesn’t have sugar, as the sweetness comes from the chestnut flour. If you prefer a little more sweetness, you can serve it with a dusting of sugar. Let’s take a closer look at the history of castagnaccio, as well as how to make it.

A Cake Rich in Tradition

Castagnaccio is a rustic cake that has a long and rich history. It was well-known as a common dish in Tuscany in 1500, where it was primarily made by peasants. This cake is made with chestnut flour, which was once a staple food of the poor in Tuscan villages. Only after the year 800 did the dish spread throughout Italy and gain the missing raisins and pine nuts. Originally created to use up chestnut flour, Castagnaccio has since become a popular dessert in its own right.

One of the best things about Castagnaccio is that it is quick and simple to make. You don’t need to add eggs or butter, only some extra virgin olive oil and a little water. The recipe can also be easily adapted to suit different tastes. For example, some recipes call for the addition of chocolate chips or other dried fruit, such as apricots or figs. Or, if you don’t enjoy the flavour of raisins, for instance, you can leave those out and still have a delicious cake to enjoy. Similarly, you can adjust the amounts for different nuts to suit your preferred taste.

My Grandmother’s Traditional Castagnaccio Recipe

This recipe is a family favourite, and I remember my grandmother making it on many occasions. It brings back many happy memories, as the flavour connects me not only to my family but to Tuscan culture itself.

Ingredients:

  • 400g chestnut flour
  • 550ml water
  • 60g pine nuts
  • 80g raisins
  • 100g walnuts
  • Rosemary
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Method:

  • Soak the raisins in water for ten minutes to help them become plump and juicy.
  • Sift the chestnut flour into a mixing bowl. This removes any lumps, creating a smooth dough.
  • Gradually mix in the water, stirring with a whisk, until you get a smooth consistency.
  • Add the nuts and raisins.
  • To a baking tray, add a dash of olive oil and spread it over the surface. Pour in the cake batter.
  • Decorate the top with a few pine nuts, walnuts, and some rosemary leaves. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
  • Bake in an oven preheated to 190°C for 45 minutes.

If you want to add sweetness, sprinkle some sugar on top. You can also serve with a dollop of ricotta cheese. Delicious!

If you’re looking for a unique and delicious cake to experience a true taste of Tuscany, give Castagnaccio a try! You won’t be disappointed. It’s simple, delicious, and perfect for autumn.

Italians And Their Stereotypes

Italy is very famous for its landscapes, culture, food and… people! What we do, our quirks, how we speak with our hands, our accents, our passionate way of interacting with each other generate an idea of who we are. It is safe to say that we don’t all behave the same way and that Italy is a mix of regional traditions and culture. However, there are some funny aspects of what we do and how we are perceived that creates stereotypes. It’s not my goal or even in my expertise to analyse them or to demonize them. This is just to talk about how I embrace and perceive the Italian stereotypes. 

I have lived in London for more than 8 years and I always recognize my fellow Italians from miles away! I realized that there is a set of very clear details that we are Italians:

  • We gesticulate a lot. Talking is not delegated just to our mouths but also to our hands!
  • We wear sunglasses also in the tube/ indoors. We love to look cool in any situation.
  • Puffer jacket for each season. Italians are famous for their style, but also for feeling cold! 
  • We are genetically programmed to eat carbs. Italians look for a good pasta dish everywhere they go, no matter what season. 
  • Italians are loud. We speak with passion and often we end up shouting… but not aggressively!

My favourite Italian stereotype is the “Food Guardian”, who does anything to protect Italian dishes.
When my boyfriend and I have Italian food, I become overprotective of what is Italian traditions. The most classic way of making an Italian angry is to get the ingredients of carbonara wrong. We can get very irritated if someone puts cream in Carbonara. I remember watching a TV show about Italian restaurants in Germany and how they were proud of not using cream in their Carbonara.
Pizza toppings are another way to infuriate an Italian, especially chicken. The variety of toppings is completely different in Italy and we normally put just two-three toppings. It is a massive cultural shock when we get served pizza with pineapple! The YouTube channel Vincenzo’s Plate has a lot of video-reactions to other people cooking Italian food and I found it very hilarious!
In my lessons, I play a lot around this stereotype. In some lessons my students have to decide the right ingredients for a dish or guess the right order of a recipe. Anyone would think that my favourite food is Italian but it is actually Japanese!

And what is your favourite Italian stereotype?

Photo by Guillaume Meurice at Pexels

25th April: Liberation Day, the end of Nazist occupation in Italy and more

25th April is Liberation Day in Italy and we celebrate the end of the Nazist occupation. In 1945, partisans and the army started reclaiming Italy back, fighting against German nazists and Italian fascists. Although the process lasted for a few days, the 25th of April became the official Liberation Day from 1946. It was the day of the official radio announcement to all partisans to act. Italy celebrates this solemn day with many events including the symbolic military aeroplanes flying in the air and colouring the sky in green, white and red. This solemn day is one of the most important historic celebrations.
Not everyone knows that Genova was the first European city where the German occupation ended voluntarily.  A document proves that General Gunther Meinhold surrendered to the partisans and spared the lives of many people in Genova.
Another fact that people may not know is that the 25th of April was already being celebrated. In 1938 The King of Italy declared the 25th of April the birthday’s anniversary of Guglielmo Marconi, who died the previous year. Even though the 25th of April is mainly linked to Liberation Day, some schools and teachers remember Guglielmo Marconi and his genius on this day. 
Those are just a few interesting facts about the 25th of April. If you want to know more please follow the links below:

https://www.tpi.it/cronaca/25-aprile-2020-festa-della-liberazione-20200425590295/

https://www.parestrano.it/25-aprile-fatti-e-curiosita-sulla-liberazione-ditalia-e-su-questo-giorno/

https://fortebraccionews.wordpress.com/2020/04/23/otto-cose-che-forse-non-sai-sul-25-aprile-ilaria-romeo/

Foto di SenuScape da Pexels

Why is it important to learn a foreign language?

Language is part of one’s identity and culture. From a linguistics point of view, each of us has our language, called idiolect, which is part of who we are. On a larger scale, languages tell us a lot about the people that speak them. 
I personally think that there is more to a language than just the ability to communicate with one another. There are bigger benefits: establishing deeper connections or getting a job in another country or simply watching a movie without subtitles. 
The majority of my students want to learn Italian because they have an Italian partner or they have family from Italy and want to reconnect to their roots. They need to build a more genuine rapport with another person and the only way to do that is through learning Italian.
I decided to study foreign languages because I wanted to explore the world and learn about new cultures. For example, I chose Romanian as one of my subjects at University because I wanted to break the stereotype. I felt the need of exploring the language and the people to learn something new and I loved the whole experience.
Learning a foreign language is a mind-opening experience that goes beyond prejudice. Probably, the biggest benefit is the learning experience itself. It fulfils the need of being close to someone and enables a deeper understanding of each other.

Foto di Olya Kobruseva da Pexels

Where can I find cool Italian exercises for free?

For those who want to self study or are looking for some extra practice, there is a vast variety of resources available online. It can be overwhelming to find the right ones so I selected the best according to my experience.

A list of my favourites is:
http://www.languageclassinitaly.com
If you want fun exercises to improve your grammar and read interesting fact about Italy, Elisabetta’s website is the perfect choice. I suggest trying the grammar exercises /recipes, they are great!

https://italianoperstranieri.loescher.it/
An immense website full of any sort of activities. It contains some interesting reading too.

https://www.comeitaliani.it/
A mix of creativity, culture and learning tools, this website is mainly aimed at teachers. I adapt a lot of materials especially for my advanced students.

https://caffescuola.com/
Caffèscuola has a collection of free specimen of books from beginners to intermediate. I adore their listening activities!

What is Pasquetta?

Il giorno dopo Pasqua in Italia viene chiamato Pasquetta. In Italia è tradizione festeggiarla con un pic nic in campagna o una grigliata. Un po’ incuriosita, mi sono messa a cercare perché in Italia è solito fare un gita fuori porta il giorno di Pasquetta e ho trovato alcune storie molto interessanti.
Innanzitutto, la Pasquetta ha origini parzialmente religiose. Viene anche chiamata il Lunedì dell’Angelo in quanto, secondo il Vangelo, è stato proprio l’angelo ad annunciare la resurrezione di Gesù Cristo. I fedeli che erano andati a visitare il sepolcro di Gesù  lo hanno trovato sorprendentemente vuoto. Nonostante il suo valore religioso, la Pasquetta è diventato un giorno di festa soltanto dal dopoguerra per dare un ulteriore giorno di riposo ai lavoratori. Infatti, non ci sono particolari riti religiosi associati alla Pasquetta ma è solito fare un pic nic, visitare la campagna o fare una grigliata.
Da cosa ho letto online e da cosa mi raccontavano i miei nonni, uscire dalla città e visitare la campagna è associato alla primavera e alla rinascita. Dopo un lungo inverno passato in casa è piacevole passare un giorno fuori città, all’aperto. In questa maniera,  Gesù non è presente nel suo sepolcro, nella sua casa, perché è risorto. 
Quindi Pasquetta sembra proprio l’esatto punto d’incontro tra la voglia di uscire e finalmente vedere il sole e la tradizione religiosa della resurrezione. 

English version:
In Italy, the day after Easter is called Pasquetta. We usually celebrate this day with a picnic in the countryside or a barbecue. I was curious to find out why in Italy we are used to going to the countryside on Easter Monday and I found interesting stories about it.
First of all, Easter Monday is partly a religious holiday. It is also known as “The Monday of the Angel”. According to the Gospel it was an angel who announced the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To their surprise, the believers who went to visit his tomb found it empty. 
Despite its religious meaning, Easter Monday became a holiday just after the War, to give workers an extra day to rest. There aren’t specific religious ceremonies linked to Easter Monday but we usually have a picnic, visit the countryside or have a barbecue.
From what I read online and from what my grandparents told me, going away from the city to the countryside is linked to springtime and rebirth. It’s very pleasant to spend a day outdoors after a long winter spent indoors. In this way, Jesus is not there in his tomb because he is reborn. 
Therefore Easter Monday appears to be the meeting point between the desire of being out in the sun and the Christian emblem of the resurrection. 

Nota: la versione italiana del post contiene semplificazioni per adeguarsi a un più ampio pubblico di studenti non eseperti.

Sources : https://www.ilpost.it/2021/04/05/pasquetta-storia-vangeli-lunedi-dell-angelo/ and www.lifeinitaly.com/lifestyle/holidays/easter/after-easter-pasquetta/.

Photo by Pexels, Taryn Elliot

My personal point of view about Italian language

I always have my doubts when I see ads that promise they’ll make you learn a language in 3 months. No, unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Learning a complex language like Italian requires time and practice. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be a traumatic experience but it needs time. When learning Italian, there are so many aspects to consider. I noticed that speakers of Latin-based languages such as French and Spanish are faster at learning grammar patterns. They have a great advantage as their native languages are similar to Italian. As a result, their fluency comes out more naturally but what they say is not always accurate or grammatically perfect. For example, Spanish native speakers tend to say “io aveva” (I had) instead of “io avevo”. In this case, they applied a Spanish grammatical rule to Italian and they made a mistake.

Standard Italian is also very much influenced by regional dialects, social changes, technology, and much more. Thinking about Italian – or any other language – as a set of fixed rules is wrong. There is a constant evolution in Italian language and the way we speak it in Italy and abroad. English and technology have had a massive impact on Italian. While other languages such as French created new words for new tech items, Italian borrowed those terms from English. <<Computer>> and <<mouse>> in Italian will remain the same. Then, this extended to business Italian where we integrate English words such as meeting in a conversation. I love to see my students’ reactions anytime I talk about the number of English words we use in Italian!

Foto di energepic.com da Pexels

Learn italian with recipes

There is one topic that is always present in every lesson: food! It’s inevitable, Italian language and Italian cuisine are closely related. Italian food consists of a variety of different regional dishes and various culinary traditions. In the same way, Italian language has a multitude of local dialects that are nothing like the so-called standard Italian.

Bonacci Editore probably agrees with me! Their book “Buon Appetito! Tra lingua italiana e cucina regionale” allowed me to teach Italian through regional recipes. I use the units in the book as they are or I adapt them to the needs of my students. I, myself, learned a few new regional recipes by using this book! It is fascinating to see how a recipe can grip the attention of students and be so versatile in teaching grammar and vocabulary. Definitely one of my favourite books!

Image from <a href=”https://www.vecteezy.com/free-photos/glass”>Glass Stock photos by Vecteezy</a>

How to start with italian?

The very first thing you will need to study Italian is a good old dictionary. It may sound very “school-like” but a dictionary surely has an answer to your linguistic questions. There are also free online dictionaries, extremely helpful and accessible. Among language professionals, the most used one is Wordreference.com. This resource is targeted mainly to English speakers as it has a fully developed English-Italian bilingual dictionary. 

Then you need to consider whether you want to self-study Italian or if you prefer the help of a tutor. There are several options for you available and several things to consider. How fast do you want to learn? Will you be disciplined enough to pursue your studies alone or you need someone to keep you motivated? Are you exposed to the Italian language, i.e. you have friends and family that can speak Italian to you? You can also combine the help of a tutor with some self-study. 

In any case, you can book a free consultation and we decide together the best path for you!