Where else in Europe is there a six day festival celebrating a native tree? Arcidosso in Tuscany has an annual chestnut festival each October honouring the tree which has been central to the culture and livelihood of people in this region of Italy for millennia. As well as being an important material for building, fences and baskets the tree provides all manner of useful products. The woods are managed more like orchards with owners jealously guarding the crop of chesnuts (and the beautiful porcini mushrooms that provide a valuable second crop). The streets of Archidosso come alive during the chestnut festival with rich Christmasy aroma from huge braziers roasting nuts and the local red wine flows freely. There are also ladies making pancakes, cakes, and confectionary with chestnut flower and even a locally-brewed beer flavoured with and taking one of the varietal names for chestnut, Bastarda Rossa. On market stalls traders are selling chestnut soap, chestnut liqueurs and flavoured grappa, marron jam and strong tasting chestnut-flower honey. We are told that chestnut flour was once considered a poor man’s food in Tuscany but today people are immensely proud of their ‘tree of life’ which even features in the ceramic frescos in the church in San Fiora.