A Tuscan Literary & Cooking Fest

A Tuscan Literary & Cooking FestOct. 23 – 25: MONTECATINI FOOD & BOOK FESTIVAL. Terme di Tettucio, Montecatini Terme.

From delectables on the page to prose in the pan, Montecatini Food and Book Festival is an event dedicated to the artistries of food and writing and how the two complement each other. From October 23 – 25, in the scenic town of Montecatini Terme, writers will tell their stories of why culinary traditions, food and wines are main characters in their novels. In turn, chefs will share how literature inspires their culinary creations.

Festival designer and Italian editor and journalist, Carlo Ottaviano, will officially open this unique cultural program, now in its third edition, in the elegant Portuguese Salon of Montecatini’s spectacular Tettuccio Baths. Food experts and authors from all over Italy will convene with the public for three days of book presentations, dinners, wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, food and wine displays, tasting tables as well as activities for families with children. While most events are free at the Tettuccio Baths, some require pre-registration and fees.

On Friday October 23, following numerous afternoon book presentations including Roberto Perrone, Manuale di un viaggiatore goloso (Mondadori) and Irene Rizzoli, Alice o Acciuga (Rizzoli), interested visitors may enjoy a Gala Dinner at 8:30 pm at Montecatini’s Grand Hotel La Pace. Michelin-starred, head-turning 30-something chef, Luigi Taglienti, who is the executive chef at Ristorante Trussardi alla Scala in Milan, will prepare a memorable meal for participants and guest of honor, Ezio Santin, master chef and a leading restaurateur in Italy today.

Unique to this year’s festival is a combined book and wine event. At 11 am on Saturday at Montecatini’s Teatro Verdi, the Slow Food Association will offer a preview of its most recent guide, “Slow Wine 2016.” Renowned Italian journalist, Gad Lerner, will be present to lead a discussion on how to communicate wine. Following this, at 3:30 pm at the Tettuccio Baths, the usual music of running water will give over to the pouring of wine, lots of it: 603 Italian wineries will showcase and offer tastings of 1018 Italian wines recognized in the 2016 Slow Wine guide.

“At the dinner table with the author” is the theme of other Festival dinner-discussions that will take place in some of Montecatini’s most notable restaurants.

On Friday, the writers who will join dinner guests are Federica Bossi, author of Il peso specific dell’amore (Mondadori) at Lounge Cafe Gambrinus, and Stefania Ruggeri, author of La nuova dieta mediterranea e 70 ricette rivisitate da Chef Rubio (Gribaudo) at Ristorante Osteria Pellegrini’s.

On Saturday, Florentine author Marco Vichi, whose crime novels about the police inspector Bordelli have been translated into English, will offer insights about his most recent work, Il Console (Guanda), at Ristorante Corsaro Verde.

On Sunday, Neapolitan author, Maurizio de Giovanni will bring his latest book, Anime di Vetro. Falene per il Commissario Ricciardi, to the table at Ristorante San Francisco Fishing Lab.

All above dinners have a set menu, begin at 8:30 pm and require reservations. Further details and costs available via website link below.

More food and words will merge at lunchtime on Saturday, this time a taste of Sicily. At 1pm at the Tettuccio Bath’s Caffè Storico, Chef Giuseppe Triolo will serve up his “Pasta alla Trapanese” while author Mario Liberto will present his book of the same name. At 2 pm, visitors may burn off lunch by joining Graziella Picchi, author of a guidebook on herbs, Atlante dei Prodotti Tipici: le Erbe (Agra/Rai Eri), for a discussion of the powerful properties of the smallest plants, followed by a guided 2-hour walk from the Tettuccio Baths to Montecatini Alto – participants will learn to identify and collect spontaneous edible herbs along the way.

The Saturday program includes a guided visit of the oldest part of Montecatini. Starting at 4 pm at the funicular station in the lower town, the visit will continue to the medieval hilltop of Montecatini Alto. The €10 per person fee includes a free copy of “Montecatini di gusto” a guidebook on the territory’s best restaurants, cafes, pastry and food shops. An additional special dining experience will be a buffet-style medieval meal, set in the thirteenth century Benedictine Convent in Montecatini Alto from 7 – 10 pm.

Sunday’s calendar includes several more book, blog and food project presentations, cooking demonstrations as well as a focus on Montecatini’s most important resource, therapeutic water. Water will be the subject of a comical monologue performance in memory of the late great actor, Massimo Troisi and “Idro-sommeliers” will guide visitors in a tasting of mineral waters.

Families will appreciate activities organized throughout the weekend for children ages 3-13 including educational workshops, animated readings, games featuring the vegetable garden, the five senses and food.

For all festival details and reservation information, visit www.foodandbook.it. (kate magovern)