The Hippo


Jul 16, 2019








Enjoy sweets and treats outdoors at Toscana Fest. Courtesy photo.

Toscana Fest

When: Sunday, Oct. 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Tuscan Village, 63-67 Main St., Salem,
Admission is free. Food priced per item. 

A little Italy in Salem
Festival returns to Tuscan Village

By Allie Ginwala

 Enjoy a taste of fall mixed with Italian culture at the annual Toscana Fest at Tuscan Village in Salem on Sunday, Oct. 11. Local vendors and artisans will line the grounds alongside booths with food, games and raffles.

“We have a piazza … where all the vendors are lined up under tents for our guests to see,” Amy Scarpello, front of the house director for Tuscan Brands, said in a phone interview.
Adults are drawn to Toscana Fest by the array of local businesses and vendors who set up booths displaying their wares, such as jewelry or pressed flowers, Scarpello said, while kids can enjoy bouncy houses, face painting, pumpkin painting and games.
Head pastry chef Dana Luppi is no stranger to Toscana Fest; she’s been a part of it since it began four years ago.
“We’re doing cider donuts, which are phenomenal. We mastered our recipe last year,” Luppi said in a phone interview. “And caramel corn, all homemade.”
Over the years other treats have been featured at the festival, but the donuts and caramel corn are always the most popular. Last year they made 500 bags of caramel corn and 250 servings of cider donuts, but since they sold out Luppi said this year they are upping the amounts of the sweet treats only available at Toscana Fest. 
They’ll also have a gelato cart outside with special flavors like caramel apple crisp, pumpkin spice and blackberry pomegranate sorbet, although the regular gelato counter will be serving additional flavors indoors.
“The gelato cart is a way to make it portable because that’s where all the activities are happening,” she said. “We have our bocce court outside so if you want to enjoy [the food] outdoors you can, but you can also come inside and have it in there as well.”
The idea behind the food selection for the outdoor festival centers around items that are easy to eat while walking around.
“What we do here a lot of the time is focused on sitting down and enjoying with friends and family but every now and then you have a day you need to be up and walking around so we really focus on that for this day,” Luppi said. “It’s not necessarily an Italian food, but at the same time we need to have our fall items so we put our artisan spin on those.”
Inside, guests can enjoy the market’s paninis, soups, cannolis and samples of wine, cheese and perhaps pumpkin spice chocolate chip bars, which Luppi said have been the popular pastry sample item as of late.
“For us, all of our staff is really hands-on. We have a lot of our staff volunteer to help out outside,” Scarpello said. “Inside we have team members everywhere. Whether they’re working in the market or the kitchen [they] assist with the games and fun activities.”
“An event like this we don’t do … very often, but what it can do is bring people to maybe Toscana Fest to have some fun and see what we’re doing, but maybe they’ll walk through the market and get an idea of what we do here,” she said. 
The fourth annual autumn event benefits Lazarus House Ministries, which helps families and individuals living in poverty become self-sufficient by offering emergency shelter, food, clothing and transitional housing, advocacy, education and work preparation.
“It is just a really great fall outside event to raise money for the Lazarus House,” Scarpello said.

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