Chesnut Festival in Soriano di Ciminopa0l0
October is the month of the chestnut harvest and there are chestnut festivals all over Italy.
Soriano di Cimino is famous for it’s October Chesnut Festival.
It’s all about sword fighting, horse racing, jousting and chesnut soup.
A “Contrada” can be best described as a “Neighborhood Clan”. Soriano divides into four contradas for the festival, and people generally belong to the Contrada that represents the part of town they live in. Those who live in the medieval Quarter belong to the “Rocca Contrada”. Those that live in the north-east part of town belong to the “Papacqua Contrada”. Those in the north-west belong to the “Trinita Contrada”, while those living on the south side of town are in the “San Giorgio Contrada”. During the festival they are in fierce competition with one another for various awards, the biggest of which is the coveted “Palio”, which goes to the winner of Sunday’s Jousting & Archery competition.
The big performance is in the Piazza on the last night. This usually features a performance by the medieval swordsmen of the Rocca Contrada. The deafening drumming as the drawbridge leading up to the medieval quarter & castle lowers, revealing a line of trumpeters. The trumpets begin to sound in sync with the drumming as they march into Piazza.
Suddenly, the swordsmen run into the middle of Piazza and begin a complete performance of acrobatics, sword fighting, and more.
Soriano’s swordsmen train all year and perform on a regular schedule. They have been invited to perform all over Italy, eight other countries, including the United States.
Here is a lil chesnut soup recipe for you.
- To Cook Chestnuts: With a sharp knife, slice an ‘X’ across each chestnut. Place chestnuts in a single layer on a jelly roll pan. Pour 1/4 cup water into the pan. Bake in a preheated 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) oven for 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, shell and peel.
- In a large saucepan combine the chicken stock, shelled chestnuts and chopped onions. Place the parsley sprigs, cloves and bay leaf in a spice bag and add to the chicken stock mixture. Simmer over medium-low heat for 45 minutes.
- Discard the spice bag and puree the chestnut mixture in a food processor or blender. Add the heavy cream, sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Return mixture to saucepan and gently heat through. To serve to with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream, a bit of chopped parsley and some cooked chopped chestnuts just before serving. High quality vegetable broth can be substituted for the chicken broth.