olive travels: where to visit in October
From foraging on the Scottish border, to truffle-hunting in northern Italy and harvest festivals in Morocco, here's our pick of where to travel this month
Want some ideas on where to go on holiday in October? We've selected our pick of destinations for a food lover's break: foraging in Scotland, northern Italian breaks and harvest festivals in Morocco's Atlas Mountains. This is just a small selection of our UK, European and global travel guides; check out our pick of the best UK culinary escapes for 2022 and Europe's top food trips for 2022. We also have our pick of destinations to visit in September and November.
Foraging in Scotland
October brings a multitude of wild mushrooms to the UK, including a bounty in the forests of south-west Scotland. Every Saturday, expert forager Mark Williams leads guided autumn fungi walks and foraging events, teaching curious attendees about the best foods to gather for free. On these 1.5-mile strolls you’ll learn to find, identify, process and cook with edible mushrooms. At the end of the walk, tuck into an alfresco forest lunch of wild mushroom pâté, chanterelle and parmesan tart, pickled wild mushrooms, wild mushroom arancini, Galloway goat’s cheese and hazelnut pesto, pickled marsh samphire and more.
For a taste of Scottish city life, base yourself in Glasgow, an hour’s drive away. For casual dining, try seafood fayre at Crabshakk, Sugo Pasta’s daily handmade pasta and iconic Paesano pizzas. Scottish ingredients can be found in creative, seasonal dishes at the smart yet unpretentious The Gannet in Cail Bruich's market-inspired Gaelic tasting menu, or at local institution The Ubiquitous Chip. Don’t miss Tantrum doughnuts for a homemade sweet treat.
Truffle-hunting in Umbria
October is prime truffle season in Italy, when the particularly prized white and black winter truffles can be found at the roots of trees in forests and on mountain ranges. Umbria’s Sibillini National Park is a stunning place to forage for these precious natural prizes. Base yourself in the foodie town of Norcia, where a network of paved streets are enclosed within heart-shaped, ancient walls. Seek out truffle-laced treats along with prosciutto, local cheeses, spelt and more in food treasure trove Norcinerias. Head to Ristoriante Granaro del Monte or wine bar Enoteca del Granaro for traditional Norcian dishes, such as Sibillini mountain sausage, prosciutto and spelt soup, slow-cooked veal with black truffle and rich pasta alla norcina – soft homemade pappardelle with ricotta, pancetta and Norcia sausage. At Michelin-starred Vespia, truffle is stuffed beneath the skin of spit-roast chicken and enveloped within bacon and Norcia sausage ravioli. Stay at Palazzo Seneca (doubles from £152 per night), a sixteenth-century Umbrian palace restored into an elegant Relais & Chateaux hotel hidden in one of Norcia’s narrow streets.
Venture out into the Sibillini Mountains on an educational expedition with local truffle-hunting expert Nicola and his well-trained dogs. After scanning the terrain for truffles, learn more about the most precious varieties over a picnic in the breathtaking mountains – think bruschetta with truffles, Norcia prosciutto, pecorino, ricotta, homemade jam, honey and cakes with a glass of Umbrian red.
Further north in Italy, Alba’s white truffle festival attracts enthusiasts from all over the world. The town is filled with heady aromas as truffle hunters sell their foraged goods at stalls and chefs shave the aromatic fungi over pastas, bruschetta and more. Plus, you can meet the intelligent dogs trained to seek out the main event.
Harvest hikes and festivals in Morocco
October in Morocco strikes the balance between less-hectic crowds, pleasant temperatures and atmospheric autumn festivals. Get involved in the Erfoud Date Festival in eastern Morocco, when the date harvest is followed by parades, street food and the crowning of the ‘date queen’. From 15-31 October, Harvest Festival Marrakech celebrates producers in events such as the High Atlas Food Market. The city comes alive with pop-up restaurants, tastings and workshops, with the aim of strengthening the community in the exchange of goods. Don’t miss an evening in the capital’s bustling Djemaa el-Fna square. Meander to Mechoui Alley for slow-roast lamb, tagine with prunes and olives, and mechoui cooked in a clay oven.
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Spend a couple of nights in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains at hilltop hotel Kasbah Angour (doubles from £199 per night). At this time of year, the kitchen garden is abundant with pomegranates that local Berber chefs use in vibrant autumnal salads and fresh juice for breakfast, as well as quince that’s cooked with lamb, fresh coriander and parsley in the hotel’s specialist tagines. Head out on a hike through the terraced terrain, olive groves and abundant orchards to witness the mountains’ rural harvest rituals first hand, including lively community gatherings around bread ovens. Apples and walnuts thrive at this altitude, sold by farmers in Tahnaout souk, along with deep-fried sardines, skewers of grilled meat and fragrant spice mixes.