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Fall Getaways: Sassofortino, Italy

September 24, 2008
by Sarah Amandolare
Fall is made for festivals, hikes in the woods and scenic road trips, with stops along the way for seasonal foods and stunning photo opportunities. This week, we highlight distinctly autumnal opportunities in Sassofortino in southern Tuscany.

Sassofortino

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Less touted than nearby Siena and Pisa, Sassofortino is a quiet village in southern Tuscany’s Maremma, an area that “remains largely untouched and unpolluted” amid hills, mountains and many little villages.

Sassofortino is known for its great restaurants and vineyards, and features expansive views of sea and countryside. Although some travelers use the village as a starting point for trips to Siena or Pisa, Sassofortino’s medieval architecture, chestnut forests, culinary attractions and numerous festivals make it a worthwhile destination on it’s own. The Affittacamere Da Momo is a reasonably priced family-owned guesthouse in Sassofortino.

La Festa

La festa della Castagna, the chestnut festival in Sassofortino, is a feast for the eyes and the stomach. Along with roasting chestnuts, the party boasts marrons—preserved chestnuts coated in sugar—as well as chestnut cake. Also, adorning various bruschette, you’ll taste cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil from nearby Maremma that is vivid green and has a “fruity and spicy flavor.” Roasted meats, fresh cheeses and assorted quick bites are also laid out on tables. Local wine cellars open for visitors, and display artisan ceramic, wood and glass works, as well as stone items crafted in the ancient traditions. At night, enjoy music and roving performances on the village streets. The 2007 festival was held from Oct. 31–Nov. 4; check the official Web site in late September for exact festival dates for 2008.

Hiking to Sassoforte Castle

While you’re in Sassofortino, take in the Tuscan terrain. The hiking trail to the Sassoforte castle is accessible from the Municipal Park, or you can follow signs to the castello/campo sportive from the town center. Hike up through the chestnut woods to the top of Sassoforte hill where you’ll reach the castle ruins, which have retained the essence of the fortress’s original architecture. The city of Siena, which obtained the Sassoforte castle in the 1300s, had the walls and the central tower destroyed to deter potential invaders. Some residents of the castle remained, albeit in poverty, until March 1438 when they abandoned the deteriorating structure and relocated to the village of Sassofortino. Since then, vegetation has grown atop and around the stone.

More Italy

Use the findingDulcinea Italy Travel Web Guide to plan your trip to Italy, including flights to cities around Italy, hotels and other accommodations, travel requirements, blogs and books on Italy travel, and tips for getting around in Italy.

And read the findingDulcinea Italy Travel Tale, with a first-hand account of a trip to Rome, Florence and Siena, providing insight into each city’s distinctive character.
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