Harvest festival at the Italian market

I always go to Italy for one week in October. This is actually my favourite time to visit as there is lots going on in my local town with the “sagra” – the annual town’s festival. I always meet many of my old school friends and people I know and to my childrens delight there is also a fun fair. The weather at this time of year is usually still quite good and honestly.. I love the harvesting season: pumpkin, nuts, pomegranates, apples.. and the first Sicilian lemons too.

On the last Sunday of October there is a large market in town. You can find everythere there from clothing to homewear, toys and food.

There is a distintive smell at the market: roasted chestnuts are being sold on  many stalls and you walk about and munch them whilst walking. Just like you would do with ice cream!


Roasted chestnuts are incredibly moreish and very popular in Italy.

roasting chestnuts

A big smile for the camera please 🙂

guys selling chestnuts

Lots of chestnuts!

chestnuts on sale

Walnuts are fantastic when they are fresh. I try to buy them always with their shell as they can lose their freshness quite quickly. They are incredibly good for you.


Sicilian almonds, compared to other types of almonds have a thicker and harder shell that protects the intensely flavored almond seed inside so they contain more oil and therefore more flavour.

Sicilian almonds

Pomegranates have seen a “return” during the last 10 years. They are packed with vitamins and they are delicious squeezed on or added to food.


The Sicilian stand is always my favourite and it is always there every year. It is perhaps a little early for lemons but they are slowly coming into season. Sicilian lemons have an incredible perfume which you can smell in your hands after handling them. Look at these lemons, they are green but they are perfectly ripe. You hardly ever see these in a supermarket. Sicilian lemons are usually green until December when temperatures go below 50F or 10C.

To make them more “appealing” for the consumer lemons go through the process known asdeverdizzazione” or stewing which consists of subjecting the green fruit at a temperature of about 30C – 85F in an atmosphere saturated with water vapor and ethylene gas.

I certainly would not choose to buy lemons that have undergone this process!

Sicilian Lemons

This is also harvesting time for olives which you can find “crude” or raw too.

raw olives

A harvest display with homemade cakes by the local cookery school.

Autumnal food display

The queen of the veggies is the pumpkin with pumpkin bread being sold everywhere in bakeries.

pumpkin bread

You also see lots of chrysanthemums on sale at this time of year. During the Halloween weekend, on November the first it’s “Ognissanti”, all Saints Day and people visit the cemetery taking usually chrysanthemum flowers to their relatives who have departed.

flowers - chrysanthemums

Now forget the harvest… at most festivals there is a persistent and luscious endearing smell of cakes which makes your mouth water. These brioches filled with custard and nutella were irresistible!

nutella and brioche

Brioche with custard filling


9 thoughts on “Harvest festival at the Italian market

  1. OMYGOD what beautiful post Alida and amazing pictures. Adoro la castagne and how many castagnes:)
    and che bellas the pomegranates, adoro las pomegrantes cara.


  2. Dear Alida,
    I wish I was there to see this market in person..I could just smell the aroma of the foods, the lemons, and the pumpkin breads. I love chestnuts and your description of this market is so inviting! I am so glad that you were able to get to visit your hometown and family. You and your children must have had a fun time. Those nuts looked awesome..I use a lot of nuts for baking at the holidays. I can imagine, I would have a blast there, wouldn’t know where to look first…Thank you for sharing your traditions with us…Enjoy your day!
    Dottie 🙂


  3. Great post Alida. I also took crysanths for All Saints and All souls. What a superb market, how I’d love to be there. Horrified to learn about the deverdisazzione. Wouldn’t know where to start buying though, the pumpkin bread, the gorgeous Sicilian almonds and lemons for a cake maybe? Well, I guess I’ll have to make do with buying my melagrane locally and I do have a roast chestnut vendor just down the road … 😦


    1. I was horrified too about the deverdizzazione. I think if people knew this they would switch to green lemons instead! Every year I look forward to this market and every year and I end up buying lots of food whilst munching chestnuts on my way home!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s