From the shoreline to the mountain tops of northern Tuscany there are sweeping views that cause a visitor to pause with pleasure; yet regional restaurants also elicit admiration for the food and drink they are known for. Don't hesitate to try some....
Limoncello - The second most popular liqueur in Italy, this lemon liqueur is a favourite after dinner drink or something chilled to sip on when the sun is at its highest. Though mainly produced in Southern Italy, Liguria and the Cinque Terre also celebrate this citrus favourite, especially in mid-May at the Sagra di Limoni in Monterosso al Mare, the northern-most village of the Cinque Terre. You might want to make your own at home…
Recipe: Peel the zest of 6-7 large organic lemons with a vegetable peeler, being careful to avoid the bitter white pith on the lemon skin. Place them in a large glass jar and add 1 litre of pure grain alcohol. Cover the glass jar with plastic wrap and store in a cool place for 7 days. On the 6thday boil 5 C. water and add 3 C. of sugar to the boiling water, stirring until sugar is fully dissolved. Let sugar syrup cool overnight. On the 7thday strain the lemon peels from the alcohol, discard the peels, and pour the sugar syrup into the jar with the alcohol and stir well. Store it in bottles with a cop or cork and serve very chilled, from the fridge or freezer.
Testaroli - Often, but not always, served with pesto, Testaroli is a traditional dish from the Lunigiana and Liguria. Named after the pan in which they are made, a testo has a flat base with a domed lid, essentially turning it into a mini oven. They are a thin, light pancake cut into diamond shapes, made from wheat flour, salt and water. If not served with pesto, they may just be drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with a few basil leaves and mixture of hard cheeses.
Scarpazza - This vegetable pie from Liguria and the Lunigiana, involves massive amount of greens that suit the season, a couple of eggs and a hard sheep’s cheese. Served warm or cold, it is an excellent antipasto or side dish.
Baccalà - This is what you will most likely see on the menus, but Baccalà is salt cured cod, the fish that is called merluzzo when bought fresh. While Baccalà varies from one region to another, in Tuscany yours will probably be served alla Livornese, with tomatoes, garlic, parsley and basil. A flaky fish with an intense flavor, though never fishy, it is much appreciated by the Italians.
Farro - Known in English as spelt or emmer wheat, is often seen in the Garfagnana region where it even has a IGP designation which guarantees its geographic origin. With a nutty flavor and great versatility, it features in salads, soups, breads or even in desserts. And it’s good for you – perhaps no coincidence that populations that have relied on it are known for their robust health.