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San Giovanni d’Asso or Bust (well, really just a bust)

Chris had been hyped to go to this truffle festival ever since our 2003 trip when we missed it by a day. He loves truffles and it’s one of the reasons why he enjoys coming to Italy this time of year. So after finishing our tour, we hiked back up the hill to the top of the town, then back down the hill to our house, hopped in the car and decided to head over there late in the day. Isabella thought the activities would still be going on into the evening, so we thought we’d give it a go.

Navigating over there wasn’t too difficult, again, used the dot-to-dot method, and while we were worried about parking, it wasn’t bad. We didn’t park anywhere near the festa, but at the base of San Giovann’s hill, near the train station, along a side road.

Now the question was, how to get to the top of the hill. Chris approached an officer directing traffic and surprisingly to me, he spoke English, and told us there was a shuttle bus running from the circle to the town, cool. We headed over there and hopped on just as it arrived (turns out it went down, past our car, and to the train station for pick-ups along the way, so we didn’t have to walk to the circle, but who knew – at least that way, we had a seat).

It was all of a five minute journey (including the aforementioned stops) to the top, and he let us out in the middle of the town, as there was a “parade” going on in front of us, with flag tossers and music.

Now basically, at one end of the town is an exhibition tent where you can buy jewelry, cloth items, taste and buy olive oil and wine – basically an eclectic assortment. Just outside this tent was another “covered” area, where there were chafing dishes, and dishes with antipasti, crostini, and wine that you could also purchase, but no where did we see any truffles or smell any truffles, and honestly, while there were tons of people milling about, walking up and down the street, it felt as if we arrived too late for lunch and too early for dinner. There was someone selling these huge fried dough thingy’s (giant, giant zeppoles or donuts) but Chris of course, found the only other English speaking woman there and she had no idea what they were either when we asked.

After checking out that area, we walked through town which was maybe only a bit bigger than Castelmuzio (i.e., pretty small), but every shop was open, with their wares spilling out on to the street, oil, honey, cheese shops, house wares, a gelato place and a couple of small trattoria closing up from lunch. There was one little stand (outside a salumeria), selling porchetta, so we bought a sandwich that Chris and I shared (Andy thought it needed mustard). Finally, we found the association, and Chris popped in (actually we all took turns), where they were selling truffles, just truffles, and it seemed everyone was doing as we were, just popping in, seeing the prices (starting at 280 euro for a small one) and leaving. I wonder if anyone bought any?

Andrew ended up buying a soft pecorino con tartufo and that was it. Chris was disappointed that he didn’t see random food vendors selling pasta with truffles but I don’t think that’s how this works, and it wasn’t long before we decided to hit the road. Following the crowd a this point, we found a path and some stairs that dropped us pretty much at our car, without having to walk on the winding road down the hill. The old steam train was there, getting ready to leave it seemed.

As we were leaving, we noticed that it had gotten more crowded, with parking becoming a premium as people were arriving in a steady stream. Not sure if we just timed it bad or if we missed something, or if we just don’t get it, but while it seemed a bust to us, people were flocking to it.

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Other Thinks (1)


What a shame the festa didn't work out so well.

A couple of weeks ago, Mary wrote on her blog (Reflections on My 39 Years in Umbria) about the sad fact that professional organizers seem to be taking over and running many local festivals, to the detriment of the festivals. Presumably, it's making them very corporate and dull.

I wonder if that's what has happened here?

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