Today is the Festa di San Martino in Italy (Feast of St. Martin). It’s a holiday to honor St. Martin, and it’s especially well-known and celebrated in Venice. I’m not really sure how I came to know about this obscure Italian holiday. I mean, you don’t even get the day off of work. I do know, however, that it’s become one of my favorite Italian traditions.
For me, this holiday is special because it represents something really “Italiany”, in the sense that it’s something that’s totally not celebrated in the USA. It’s really not the holy aspect of the Saint himself that interests me (though I’m sure he was a swell guy… I mean, he is a Saint!), but rather the tradition of the holiday.
Basically, for the Festa di San Martino, people celebrate by officially opening the bottles of vino novello (new wine). New wine is the wine that was recently bottled with that year’s grape harvest and it’s generally sweeter than aged wine. This vino novello is paired with roasted castagne (chestnuts). You can even put a warm roasted chestnut into your glass of new wine to let it soak up some of the flavor. It’s really buonissimo!
I have my own chestnut roasting pan and love making roasted chestnuts at home because then the whole house smells all chestnutty and autumny for days!