I still have in my eyes the beautiful colours of Autumn, the glimpses of stone houses, the hills full of vineyards lines I saw while at the Combai Chestnut Festival, north of Treviso.
Combai is a little village (about 500 inhabitants), perched on the Prosecco hills. Its most important product is the marrone igp (pgi chestnut). But the chestnuts of the surrounding woods were not an indigenous plant. On the contrary, they were introduced here in the Middle Ages, replacing the local oaks, to feed the population. If you’re wondering how to pronounce Combai, it’s easy. It sounds like the English verb “come by”. So you have to come by here. 😉
La Festa dei Marroni di Combai, Combai chestnut festival, takes place since 1945. It was first organized to raise funds for the local band. Nowadays it attracts visitors from the whole Veneto and other Italian regions. And more.
For almost a month, from October 6 to November 1, you can attend Combai Chestnut Festival, join a guided excursion, watch the artisans at work during the weekend (wood sculptures, wickerwork baskets, wood carvers) or the chestnut roasters at work (there’s also a competition for the best roaster), explore the burg and of course eat the chestnuts! Long tables are provided with huge plastic bags, with the sole purpose of hosting the chestnuts peels. I ended up with completely black fingers! 😉
Did you know that… about 7 tons of chestnut are roasted every year during the festival. Meaning 7.000 kg. Pretty impressive, eh?
As bloggers, we first explored the surrounding woods, learning many things about chestnuts. We walked along a trail covered in chestnuts husks, in the so called bosco incantato, enchanted wood, meeting, every now and then, wooden sculptures representing some traditional folklore characters, such as the marantega (old coughing woman), the contadino (farmer) or the wood mascotte, the hedgehog Comby.
Every now and then, from the dense wood, a breach allowed us to observe the Prosecco vineyards, or a little house hidden among the greenery or a breathtaking view of the entire village, surrounded by hills and Pre-alps. Autumnal colors made everything look nicer.
The local expert Romilda accompanied us. She was very energetic, hiking up and downhill with grace and rapidity, without the slightest shred of effort. She explained to us the difference between two kinds of chestnuts, castagna (little, darker) and marrone (bigger, striped, lighter… and tastier!). And she told us many things about the wood and the village. When we stopped to have lunch, she went away. I suspect she doesn’t even need to eat like us common mortals.
Romilda was amazing. We need people so enthusiast of their territories. I already told her that I will surely contact her for a future visit to Combai, since there’s more to explore there.
After a totally chestnut based lunch, we explored the burg: kiosks selling local food and products, singers, artisans and a lot of people. I particularly appreciated the colorful scarecrows scattered everywhere in the village.
At some point, thanks to Romilda, we also invaded (there’s no other term possible) the house of a painter. He was there, in his front garden, sketching some persimmons (of his tree), when we bursted in. He welcomed us to his abode, that seemed a house out of the early 1900. Creaking wooden spiral staircase, sooty fireplace, the kitchenette full of granny pots and kettles and all the walls covered in paintings. A lovely place and a cheerful owner. The motto on his website tells everything: Marco Tagliaro, Artist and Painter, timeless idealist and romantic.
I had to go home before exploring everything. So I made up my mind to go back there again. Besides, driving away with Penelope, my car, I spotted other charming corners to photograph along all the way down. At some point in fact, due to the large crowd, the main street became one way, so I had to go home following a different road (more picturesque) than the one I came from.
About that, be prepared. I found the last parking spot in the official lot at 10 am. So, you’re warned, after that hour, you have to get creative in order to park. 😀 But, mi raccomando (go to the mi raccomando post), do not go at the Combai Chestnut Festival on Mondays to find less people. The Festival only runs from Tuesday to Sunday!
Combai Chestnut Festival – Festa dei Marroni di Combai
Tuesday – Friday 10 am – 00 pm
Saturday 11 am – 00 pm
Sunday 11 am – 9 pm