Peachy keen: local foods, traditions and fun in Londa

A foodie haven a short distance from Florence

Charm-laden Londa has rugged Tuscan character, with a misty mountain backdrop that makes it a visual treat for visitors. “A river runs through it”—the Rincine torrent—and the quaint bridge that crosses it, the Ponte Sul Rincine, adds to the town’s photo-ready factor.

Producers, polenta and parties: celebrating the town’s pride and joy

Harder to capture on camera is the local foodie culture, which packs a punch (a peach, actually). Londa is best known for being home to the Florence province’s fabled fruit, the Pesca Regina, or “Queen Peach,” protected as an official Slow Food product. Long a symbol of summer, here peaches are the local pride and joy. Super-sweet and with white pulp, the Pesca Regina di Londa is known for its late maturation (a phenomenon literally described as a frutta tardiva): they’re at their best during mid-September. 

Naturally, this is one of the liveliest times of the year in Londa. The town hosts the colorful Festa di Settembre, a series of concerts, market stalls and cooking competitions, including a polenta contest among the town’s neighborhoods. But the main attraction is the Festa della Pesca Regina, which “pits” producers against each other in a bid for the Pesca d’Argento (Silver Peach) prize. Topping it off is a fireworks show on the banks of the town lake—a human-made body of water distinct from the rambling Rincine.

An unapologetic sausage fest

If savory fare is more your speed, visit during the winter months. Bardiccio is a famous fennel-seasoned sausage historically “linked” to Tuscany’s Valdarno and Valdisieve (Londa is part of the latter area). Long, heavy and relentlessly flavorful, this is manly meat made for serious eaters of all stripes, formed from the part of the pork that reddens during the butchering process.

In the colder months, bardiccio makes a satisfying second course on its own or in an ultra-rich risotto. But do more than order it off a menu and experience it like a true local. Its ties to the territory are celebrated every year on Christmas Eve, when residents host the semi-sacred Sagra del Fusigno after the holy mass, which usually ends around midnight. Bold cooks build a bonfire in the square and prepare bardiccio together, while party-goers pair it with local wines and ring in Christmas with a tasty, thoroughly Tuscan ritual.

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