Excitement is building ahead of Cookstock from September 7 to 9, as the picturesque town of Pontassieve, just 25 minutes by train or car from Florence, gears up for its annual top-tier food and wine festival.
Food and fun
via Ghiberti, Pontassieve, during Cookstock
Rediscovery is the theme behind this year’s event, which will feature a mega BBQ organized by Gerini the butcher’s in piazza Boetani. Tuscany meets the Czech Republic in piazza XIV Martiri as local Colognole tortelli pasta are cooked up next to the Pivo beer stand manned by Pontassieve’s twin town of Znojmo. The artisan food trucks La Toraia, Pescepane, Ape Scottadito, Nura, Fatti di fritto and Panino Tondo return to the festival’s focal point of piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, alongside stands run by local businesses Pizzeria Sandrino, Gelateria Sottani, Tartufi del Mugello, Testaroli della Lunigiana and the ever-popular Ruffino Wine Bar. Sip Tuscan gin and vodka in an impromptu lounge bar along via Ghiberti, the town’s old centre or head over the river to San Francesco Pelago’s piazza Verdi for live music and basketball tournaments. Family-fun highlights include a rice salad competition and a tortello-off as Pontassieve housewives take on professional chef Cristian Borchi for the title of Best Tortello Maker (Watch the latter in live streaming on Facebook and Instagram: the pasta making will take place on the scenic home terrace of The Florentine’s editor in chief Helen Farrell.)
Ruffino winery open
The world-famous winery Ruffino will open its doors to the public exclusively for Cookstock (September 8 and 9, 4-10pm), with guided tours by the friendly staff around its headquarters. Check out the wine garden, a relaxing place to find out about Ruffino Cares, the winery’s responsible drinking campaign launched this year and partnered by The Florentine. No need to book – just turn up.
Down by the river
Pontassieve’s sublime Medici Bridge provides an Insta-ready setting for four cooking shows. Conducted by top food journalist Leonardo Romanelli, book your spot to learn from Michelin-starred chefs Peter Brunel and Andrea Mattei, Stefano Dai of Florence’s Fulin Chinese restaurant and Tuscany’s famous poet-butcher Dario Cecchini. This year’s festival will also make use of the Sieve river banks: hang out at the Pontassieve Lido from dawn to dusk, in via del Prato, enjoying sweet treats by Pasticceria Da.Ma. and speciality coffee by Mokarico while listening to book presentations and watching cooking shows.
A glass of red on TF’s editor in chief Helen Farrell’s terrace in Pontassieve
Learn something new about wine at the tastings held in a frescoed room at Pontassieve’s town hall. Savour the three “B’s” of Barolo, Brunello and Bolgheri (September 7, 7.30pm) or enjoy a vertical tasting of Chianti Rufina classics such as Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro, Nipozzano Vecchie Viti, Il Lastricato Trebbio and Selvapiana Bucerchiale led by TF’s Helen Farrell (September 9, 6.30pm). Booking required online at www.cookstock.it.