Chesnuts roasting on an open fire—well, growing up in Washington state and then living in the desert of Arizona for nearly 10 years—I never saw them. Not until I came to Rome.
Granted, this isn’t exactly what you’d call an “open fire,” but, it’s about as close as you can get on the Rome streets this time of year.
Chestnuts, castagne (cah-STA-nyay) start to appear once the weather turns chilly, and it’s another thing I love about fall in Rome.
Mind you, this little sidewalk snack can get a little pricey. A couple weeks ago when I asked first, above all, (word to the wise), how much they cost, and I got the response €5, I told the man, “No thanks, that’s too much.” He said, “How about €3?” and just like that, we had a deal. Don’t be shy when you think it just doesn’t seem right. As we say here in Rome, “ci provano,” which means, “they try,” or simply, if people are willing to pay, they’ll keep asking, until someone comes along and challenges them on it. His stand didn't have any prices written, but most do.
They put the chestnuts in a little paper cone and you can walk around with them. There’s usually about 5-10 in the cup.
I finally did get to roast chestnuts over an open fire my first Christmas here in Italy, in a tiny little town called Arcinazzo Romano, and we ate them while enjoying a bottle of Cesanese del Piglio Dolce, a sweet (dolce) red wine (Cesanese) that comes from the nearby town of Piglio.
What autumn traditions start to appear this time of year where you live?