Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian

The pici are freshly prepared by hand by the cooks of the Arci club, and the long queue of people shows just how delicious they are.

A few steps further on there is the unmissable stuffed quail – one of the many specialities to be found along the narrow streets of Villa a Sesta – cooked by one of the Michelin-starred restaurants that take part in the “Eating with your hands” Festival.

Local shops and businesses have the chance to present their excellent products: the quail is from the Bottega del 30, the pici are made by the Arci club, that also serves thousands of coffees.

The Asinello Restaurant offers traditional animelle, chicory, goat cheese and spelt with peppers. The Osteria alla Villa prepares Thai rolls, while the Osteria La Villa di Sotto bakes pizzas and the Villa a Sesta farm serves their wines.

It’s a warm Sunday in October, and we are in the heart of the Chianti region. In this hamlet near Castelnuovo Berardenga these local delights are placed side by side with forty other special dishes prepared by renowned chefs who have come here from all over Italy.

Their presence is one of the highlights of this food festival, which has reached its sixth edition.

It attracts thousands of visitors (last year nine thousand people came, and this year we estimate as many) who enjoy Michelin-starred picnics in the Villa a Sesta vineyards, accompanied by music, art and craft shows and kids entertainments.

This year Andy Lotto participated – actor, comedian and singer who together with Renzo Arbore and Marisa Laurito has made the history of Italian television in programs such as ‘Quelli della Notte’ and ‘L’altra domenica’.

He’s here at Villa a Sesta in the role of chef, to present one of the dishes from his restaurant “Là” in the heart of Rome, and he’s enjoying posing for selfies with his fans.

From midday patient queues of people have formed outside the various stands offering all sorts of specialities.

Wild boar kebab by the restaurant Il Piastrino di Pennabili (Rimini), the ribollita ramen of the Essenziale restaurant (Florence), the chocolate delight with grapefruit sorbet by the Poggio Rosso of Castelnuovo Berardenga, and the Chianti-style hot dog by the Osteria di Volpaia from Radda in Chianti.

When the lunchtime crowd begins to thin out around 3pm some food stands are forced to close, because they have finished all their stocks.

People continue to arrive during the afternoon, to enjoy the food, the view of the vineyards dressed in gold, and the special hospitality that comes from a good old-fashioned community.

Almost all the fifty inhabitants of Villa a Sesta are volunteering at the Festival, armed with traditional straw hats, to show everybody the strength of their community that is – in their words – “based on human relationships and on the enhancement of places of the soul”.

Lisa Baracchi (Photo by Gabriele Fredianelli)