Turning to that famous jewel of Tuscan fall—the chestnut, that is—means you’ll have a ready-made route for getting in touch with the natural territory, while also learning about the town history and economy. One of the most distinct attractions here in the Pistoia province is the Ecomuseum of the Pistoian Mountain Region, more an open-air exercise in immersive learning than a typical museum. Its various exhibits and explanatory panels are scattered throughout the Pistoian mountain area, and explore how humans and nature interact and impact each other.
So where does the chestnut and its tree come in, then? The Ecomuseum has a series of themed itineraries for visitors to follow, and “Le vie del Castagno”, translated by the organizers as “The chestnut ways”, is one of the highlights. Hitting the chestnut trail is an apt way to explore the area, particularly if you’re in a group with varied interests. Avid hiker and nature lover? The path takes you down (and up) plenty of scenic trails and forests, teaching you about chestnut trees in the meantime. Fancy yourself an aspiring food historian? You’ll visit buildings and apparatuses used to dry chestnuts and grinding mills. Curious about culture? You’ll learn how valuable the chestnut tree has been here since the 11th century—how it was planted in droves as the population grew, how the fruit formed the basis of the local diet, and how the wood was well-suited for construction and use as a firewood that could be turned into charcoal, too.
Outside the trail itself, if you’re here in summertime, late July brings some fruit-centered festivities to the tiny hamlet of Torri. The town’s Pro Loco association typically hosts the Festa di Santa Margherita, which celebrates necci, a type of pancake-esque, chestnut-based, thoroughly Tuscan treat.
If you really want to “go nuts,” so to speak, download the Le Vie del Castagno app for iPhone or Android. This EU-backed resource is chock full of information and itineraries: according to the app, Tuscany contains 176,900 hectares’ worth of surface area associated with chestnuts.