For your second day in the area, set your sights on the smaller, stone-set town of Castel San Niccolò and an even smaller hamlet within it, Cetica. With just upwards of 600 residents, Castel San Niccolò is not exactly a nightlife hub, but if it’s local cuisine and color you’re after, you’ll find it checks the boxes.
We mean “local color” in a literal sense, too: in Cetica, it’s red, since the town’s pride and joy is its red potato production. The patate di Cetica are a type of tuber native to the region, and are known for their intense red color. Perfect for preparation of gnocchi and tortelli, their production risked extinction for several years before major recovery efforts began in 2001. By 2005, the potatoes also had their own regulating Consortium and a D.O.P. quality designation to boot.
Also prevalent in the area is something a bit more mainstream: Porcini mushrooms, which take center stage during a food festival typically put on by Cetica’s Pro Loco association in the late summertime. Soups, sauces, crostini and other tasty mushroom-based delicacies delight crowds at this August event.
Traveling in autumn instead? You won’t go wrong choosing a chestnut-based dish. It’s one of Tuscany’s most iconic fall fruits, but in the Casentino area in particular, it molds mountain life. After sampling some castagnaccio (a type of sweet chestnut cake with pine nuts and rosemary) or chestnut-based polenta, make a visit to the old but still-active Grifoni stone mill, where they’re crushed to make flour and other marketable products.