A typically autumnal fruit, in the region of Alto Veneto up to not very long ago, the chestnut was considered a highly precious gift of nature as it kept hunger at the door during the most severe winter months, it was conserved for long periods and lent itself to an enormous variety of recipes. Not only, it was even used as currency for trading. The woods were kept clear while waiting for the chestnuts to ripen and the harvesting was one of the most cheerful moments of the mountain communities.
Chestnuts are heart-shaped with brown striate skins, sweet flesh and pith that is easy to remove because it does not penetrate the flesh. From a nutritional viewpoint, chestnuts are rich in fibre. They contain phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sodium and calcium, as well as vitamins, particularly those of group B that contribute to the correct functioning of the nervous system, the immunity system and of the cardiocirculatory apparatus. Chestnuts are also rich in carbohydrates that are more digestible than those found in cereals, and thus represent a remarkable source of energy. They constitute a food that is particularly suitable for those who practice sport, considering that they help the muscles work as well as stimulating the circulation of the blood, while they are also indicated in the case of patients in convalescence or those who have problems with chronic fatigue and anaemia.
The Marca Trevigiana, or the marchlands around Treviso can boast two areas of production the Chestnuts of CombaiPGI and the Chestnuts of Monfenera PGI.
In the second half of October the Pro Loco of Combai organizes a famous festival for promotion and tasting of the chestnut, roasted and in the infinite number of dishes it is used for (cakes, custards, soups, ice-cream, beer etc.) deriving mostly from local traditions. This is the 'Festa dei Marroni of Combai'. The Combai chestnut, roasted in the 'rostidora' (a special pan with holes for roasting chestnuts), is easy to peel, and a delight to taste for its exquisite flavour, making an excellent accompaniment for a glass of Prosecco or Verdiso novella.
Monfenera is the name of the mountain on which the cultivation of chestnuts in the piedmont areas (literally, 'at the foot of the mountains') originated and developed – the heart of the chestnuts from Pederobba. Every year in October an event is celebrated that is special for all the people in the community of Pederobba, a month of festivities and cultural events with the chestnut of Monfenera as the main theme. The 'Mostra Mercato dei Marroni di Monfenera' (Monfenera Chestnut Market Show) promotes the cultivation of the chestnut, along with improvement of the environment and the woods, as well as demonstrating the value of this fruit and the numerous by-products deriving from it.
'Delizie d'Autunno' (Autumnal Delights) is a show that takes place in the area of Treviso from September to early December, and represents an ideal moment for tasting the typical local products of the season where, naturally, the chestnut has the leading role.
Photo by Associazione Produttori del Marrone di Combai