Guest Post by Harald Zoschke
For hundreds of years, Italy has been famous for their chile peppers, or peperoncini, as they are called here. Most of the landraces and cultivars came from Southern Italy. When chile fever caught on in this country, the hotbed (pun intended) was also the south, as evidenced by two decades of annual Peperoncino Festivals in Diamante, Calabria. But the fever spread quickly to the rest of Italy, and now for the fourth year there were the “Peperoncino Days” — an August weekend full of “hot” events, organized by Tuscan pepper grower and specialty food producer Mr. PIC, owned by the Carmazzi family. (Marco Carmazzi and his son Giacomo are no strangers to Dave – he met them at Harald and Renate’s House and had a chance to taste some of their excellent products). “PIC” stands for piccante – and no matter whether it is their Rocoto-spiced beer or Habanero salami, there’s just the right dose to kick it up without overpowering the original flavor. The spicy spectacle took place at Villa Borbone in Viareggio, a Tuscan coastal community. The park was filled with pepper plants, each with description, while the place in front of the villa had various vendor booths, and inside the building was seating for various expert presentations, for example about medical uses of chile peppers and herbs. Nightly entertainment included dance performances and music. And of course, there was plenty of food.
Upon entry, each visitor received coupons for free tasting of ice cream, beer, sweets, soups and more – all kicked up with our favorite fruit, of course. Even at night there were still long lines at the tasting booths. More than 9,000 came last year, and this year there were 14,000 visitors. A perfectly organized event, and the weather was perfect, too: 27C (80F) and no rain in sight. If you plan visiting Tuscany next year, why not come in August and enjoy the fifth Peperoncino Days! More information: http://www.mrpic.it/
Here are some impressions. Above, author Harald with Massimo Biagi and his 2015 Capsicum grow-out.
Marco Carmazzi (Mr. PIC), Renate, Harald, Massimo Biagi, Giacomo Carmazzi (Mr. PIC jr.), Paola (Mrs. PIC)