6 ways to enjoy autumnal fare

Autumn is always inherently welcoming and comforting with the rich warm colours of nature, when roasted chestnuts crackle on the fire, logs burn in the fireplace and steam rises from hot drinks. At the table, autumn is also the season that offers us the most delicious and characteristic foods, especially in the Lake Maggiore region. Restaurant tables abound with wine, mushrooms, game, grapes, pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, sweet chestnuts and many other seasonal foods. If you’ve booked an Autumn break in the Ascona-Locarno area, here are six great ways to enjoy its extraordinary gastronomy.

1. Autunno Gastronomico | 12.09 – 24.10

Now in its 24th year, this gastronomic festival is much loved in the region, both by tourists who get the chance to taste the local produce and by locals delighted to discover some new delectable dishes. 50 restaurants take part, each with its own special dish and a menu specially conceived just for this event. It’s a great way to discover new restaurants and the typical flavours of autumn in the Lake Maggiore region. Read all about the various dishes and menus on offer this year in the presentation flyer found on the page dedicated to this event or in the guide available at the Ascona-Locarno Turismo tourist offices. Discover

2. Rassegna carne di capra | 27.10 – 12.11

This goat meat gastronomical festival is the true autumn tradition of our region. Between October and November, some restaurants in Vallemaggia (and neighbouring areas) offer special menus dedicated to goat meat. There is also a special evening each year dedicated to “Cicitt”: the long, flavoursome sausages made from goat meat and fat and cooked directly on the fire, typical of Vallemaggia and Valle Verzasca valleys. Not for nothing, they are one of the presidia of the Slow Food movement. Discover

3. Autumn food festivals

Many festivals and celebrations are held in the Ascona-Locarno area to welcome in the Autumn. The most famous are the Sagra d’Autunno (autumn festival) and the Festa della Castagne (chestnut festival) in Ascona on the first and second Saturday in October. They are a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of Ticino traditions and admire them closely, with plenty of entertainment and artisan stalls. And the cherry on the cake? The “maronatts” who roast sweet chestnuts in huge punched pans over a hot fire. Discover

4. Sweet chestnuts

While on the subject, this small brown nut is an especially important source of food in Ticino. Consumed not just as roasted chestnuts, but also as a purée and flour. All products using its various forms are very popular in autumn. Cakes, gnocchi, side dishes: sweet chestnuts are used in a thousand different dishes. This is a thing of the past. In fact, the sweet chestnut used to be known as the “bread tree” because its nuts sustained the local population through the winter months after being dried in what were called the “grà”. These small stone buildings can still be found scattered throughout the region. The one in Moghegno is still in operation today. Even if sweet chestnuts are more of a treat these days, it is still a popular autumn custom to hunt for them in their spiky cases among the fallen leaves in the woods. Discover

5. Wines

It’s autumn. How could we possibly not mention wine? While we can enjoy a good glass of wine all year round, the actual grape harvest takes place at the end of summer and in autumn, so making grapes – and consequently wine – a typical product of this season. The most cultivated grape variety in the canton of Ticino is Merlot, used to produce excellent red and white wines. In fact, white Merlot is a local speciality of our canton, relatively rare elsewhere in the world, and has become a symbol of the Ticino aperitif. Scopri

6. Farina Bóna

The Onsernone Valley used to have just under active 30 mills. Just two are still operational today, in Loco and Vergeletto, producing two unique products: Polenta Onsernone and Farina Bóna.  The latter is traditionally made in the valley by finely grinding roasted corn (maize). With its slight hint of popcorn, it is also suitable for making desserts and snacks. You can even find Farina Bóna ice cream in our region in summer months! Discover

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