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Eating Tuscany in beautiful Barga

Eating Tuscany in beautiful Barga


Barga is a medieval town surrounded by the chestnut woods, poplar trees, olive groves and grape vines of the Tuscan hills. It nestles in the Garfagnana Valley, which, despite sounding like someone choking on an olive, is an area famous for wild boar, pork, prosciutto, pecorino cheese, and honey. It is the area’s ingredients that inspired Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers to create the River Café, so it is hallowed ground indeed.

Food is very much central to Barga’s identity and it is the epitome of a classic Tuscan town, and yet on my recent visit there I was struck by the many contradictions to be found in this wonderful part of the world. We had travelled as a family with our good friends Ross and Martha and their children for a two-week retreat. In total we were four adults and seven children, all of whom were sporting various levels of fair hair and pale skin. Among the locals we looked like a sun-starved travelling circus troupe. However, the locals were also not as they seemed. They looked Italian and spoke Italian, but with Scottish accents. In fact, it seemed over half the people there were from Scotland.

Barga is the most Scottish town outside of Scotland. It has gone through good and bad times – it has been prosperous, poor and fought over. In the lean times, particularly at the demise of the town’s silk industry, there was a large migration from Barga – most travelled to Scotland where they worked as street traders. Eventually they inter-married and found fortune running ice cream parlours and fish and chip shops, then returned. With newfound wealth the second and third-generation families built a new area outside the historic walled centre with beautiful villas. This forms a striking dichotomy of architecture whereby one minute you are in wide streets with tall Georgian townhouses and the next winding through shoulder-width, high-walled stone streets.

The food really is amazing – there is a weekly market and great restaurants but, best of all, Barga contains one of my favourite shops; an alimentari (or grocers) called Alimentari Caproni that’s run by two brothers, Rico and Agostino. Our friends had been going to Barga for years and decided this year they were going to get married there, after eighteen years together. The brothers greeted them like long-lost friends and proceeded to offer us all wine, bread and ham while gently pinching the cheeks of all the children. The shop was filled with local hams, salamis, breads, olive oil, wines, cheeses and porcini. We did a lot of shopping there and I particularly liked the way that the brothers would remove certain items from our baskets at the till and replace them with their own considered choices. In the UK it would come across as rude and pushy, but in the contradictory town of Barga it was great personal service and showed that the brothers cared enough that we made the right choices.

And yet it wasn’t the usual ingredients that stuck in my memory, even though they were exquisite. It was the ones I wasn’t expecting to eat that really made an impression. Considering that we were already relatively high up in the hills, we took a short trip out one day up a narrow pass to a tiny trattoria next to a closed monastery, carved out of the rock face and centuries old. The order of monks that still presides there lives virtually underground in caves. However, they must at least be tempted to break all of their vows and visit the trattoria because it is wonderful. It hasn’t changed its menu in years and offers just a couple of choices – basically trout or meat. The most astounding meal I had was a plate of trout that had been butterflied open and simply cooked in herbs and butter with some scalloped potato. The idea of trout up in a mountain trattoria still makes me shake my head in surprise and I’ve been there – twice!

Of course there was plenty of home cooking to be done as well, and Ross and I were more than willing chefs. We managed to pull together some classics and tip the contradiction scale back into pure Tuscan fare with stuffed courgette flowers, steak Florentine, farrow salad, pesto pasta, pizzas, seafood linguine and octopus stew. We spoke about the food a lot even before we had left the UK. In fact, we had pretty much organised our menu for the whole two weeks within a week or so of booking the holiday. The one dish that we wanted to cook was a traditional porchetta, although we were in two minds about using a suckling pig that the most traditional recipes calls for. After several conversations about it we decided to try to order a suckling pig from the local butcher and bone it out ourselves, making sure to ask for the offal so that we could make the stuffing.

Now, our Italian gets better after a couple of vinos, but I would say that Ross and I are at best enthusiastic with our attempts at Italian. We’ve got all the gestures and intonation but lack in vocabulary. Still, we thought that we had made ourselves clear to the butcher when we ordered a “piccolo suino” for porchetta and he said that he could get one in a few days. Sadly, when we went to pick up the pig we found that we had ordered a “small bit of pig”, which was actually a significant cut of loin with belly attached. Happily that’s still good for porchetta, and we did manage to make it using herbs and sausages for the stuffing, rolling and tying it before roasting it for three and a half hours so that it had wonderful crackling skin – but it wasn’t what we were expecting. It took a very Italian old woman with a very strong Scottish accent to translate to the butcher what we had intended. He said next time we are in Barga he will know what we mean – which is, I guess, as good as an invitation to go back.

Even on the last day, as we were heading to the airport, the contradictions were still present – we realised we were going to miss the forthcoming festival “Sagra delle Pesce e Patate”, which is Barga’s week-long celebration of fish and chips. I suppose ultimately it was slightly at odds to be spending time with people who were actually on honeymoon too, but as with all the opposites on that holiday, Ross and Martha were just meant to be together.

Header image by Andy Powell


Top must try foods in Lucca

Appreciate the charms of Lucca through its cuisine. Enhance your visit to this beautiful town in Tuscany by sampling some traditional Lucca dishes.

Our travel tips guide you through Lucca's narrow cobbled streets bounded by the remains of Renaissance city walls, then use our food guide to search out quaint little cafes and historic restaurants when it's time for lunch or dinner.

What could be more relaxing than sitting in the sun, sipping your aperitif and waiting for a classic Lucca dish to arrive?

Soup of farro

With its hearty combination of borlotti beans and seasonal vegetables, Lucca Farro Soup just needs a grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano on top and some freshly cooked crusty bread to make the perfect lunch.

Like so many Tuscan dishes, Farro soup makes full use of local seasonal food.

Garmugia Soup

Garmugia Soup is another filling lunch dish with roots that go back to 16th-century Lucca.

With lots of green vegetables but little meat available, this soup was traditionally flavored with some dried pancetta and a little ground meat.

Garmugia is the perfect choice if you're visiting Tuscany in March or April because its a soup made with spring vegetables.

Farinata

Maybe soup is a little too filling for your children. Then let them try the traditional favorite of Italian kids - Farinata.

They eat this tasty flatbread at any time of the day as a healthy snack. Like the soups it heralds from the days of simple cibo povero or peasant food, using the nutritious but cheap ingredients of chickpea flour and olive oil.

Some say its origins date back to Roman days when soldiers on the move cooked their chickpea mix on shields hot from the sun.

Tordelli Lucchese

You can't visit Italy and not try some pasta, every region has its own variations.

Tordelli Lucchese simply means pasta stuffed with beef, pork or green vegetables. Nutmeg gives it a unique flavor.

Matuffi

Matuffi starts off with a runny layer of polenta, topped with local sausages and mushrooms.

This robust dish was served on cooler evenings as summer finished.

Torta d'erbi

Torta d'erbi or "Torta coi becchi" is a traditional pie made with shortcrust pastry and filled with green vegetables, raisins and pine nuts.

Baccalà

Baccalà or dried and salted cod is a staple across southern Europe, a way of preserving and eating fish right through the year.

Each chef has their own favorite Baccalà recipe whether they bake, braise or fry it. It's definitely delicious sliced and grilled with chickpeas.

Rovelline lucchesi

Conjure up grandma's kitchen with Rovelline Lucchesi.

Full of taste and aromas this dish uses thin slices of beef flavored with local capers and mountain herbs of sage and rosemary.

Buccellato

Let's hope you have room for some sweet treats after your hearty Lucca food as you must try the traditional ring-shaped Buccellato.

Dating back to the days of Ancient Rome its name comes from the Latin bucella or bite. Traditionally eaten on Sundays the cake was collected from the baker after mass and carried home around the arm.

It is temptingly soft and sweet, filled with raisins and aniseed.

It's delicious with your morning coffee but don't worry if you can't eat it all at once. The Italians enjoy a slice a day or two later dunked in a glass of red wine.

Necci

Necci are a very typical food in Lucca.

This crepes are made of chestnut flour and usually filled with ricotta.

One last thing: Pasimata

If you are lucky enough to visit Lucca during Holy Week or Easter celebrations you will come across Pasimata.

Traditionally eaten on Easter Saturday this bread takes two days to prepare, a real labor of love.

It is a sweet treat flavored with raisins and aniseed.

You'll come across the taste of aniseed again and again in the cuisine of Lucca.

We hope you've enjoyed our food guide to Lucca and that these tempting dishes have made you want to spend some time in this beautiful part of Tuscany.

Did you like this place? Leave a comment below to inspire future travelers.
Let us know what you enjoyed most or give us valuable advice to improve visits!


Every town in Tuscany has its own street food

We are talking about dishes and food that constitute the basics of the local culinary traditions, like that of the trippa and lampredotto from Florence - except that at one time these were normal dishes prepared by the Mom or Grandmom at home using a family recipe. Dishes that took time and care to make - and meals that we were used to eating as we came home from work.

Now we often find ourselves eating lunch at our desk or on the run, without ever really having enough time to sit down at a table and enjoy a full meal.

And this is how we have come to know street food, which in its defensie, has made it all the more possible to taste all the local specialities!


Locals all Have Their Favorites

As far as "terroir" conditions, Tuscany was the first place in Italy that the potato should have grown abundantly: preferring high altitudes, and humid terrain. In fact, the areas that have the strong traditions tied to the potato are located in the mountains and several have recipes that specifically call for only these types of potatoes. But this didn&rsquot happen immediately, it took years of cultivating and cross cultivating to produce potatoes that thrived. Today you will find that you can&rsquot transplant one variety in another territory. the true expression happens only in its native hills.

Here are a few of the more celebrated variations and where you can find them:

Patata di Regnano

Production Area: Lunigiana and in particular the town of Regnano in the province of Massa Carrara

Patata di Zeri

Production Area: Lunigiana and in particular the town of Zeri along the river Magra in the province of Massa Carrara.

Patate di montagna Sillano

Production Area: Garfagnano and more precisely in the town of Sillano, near Piazza di Serchio in the province of Lucca

Patata del Santa Maria a Monte (Tosa)

Production Area: the town of Santa maria a Monte in the province of Pisa

Patata bianca del Melo

Production Area: the town of Melo, near Cutigliano in the province of Pistoia

Patata bianca di montagna a Firenzuola

Production Area: Mugello, especially near Firenzuola in the province of Florence

Patata rossa di Cetica

Production Area: Casentino, in particular, the town of Cetica in the province of Arezzo. This is one of few variations which has arrived at viable commercial levels, and you can find the variety in Tuscan supermarkets. Read more here.

Patata macchiaiola

Production Area: Maremma, near Monte Amiata and Monte Labbro


Barga

Barga in Garfagnana, Tuscany. Ph. flickr/Raniero Corsetti Giusti di Ripalunga

Barga is a small town located in Tuscany, central Italy, which has maintained its medieval roots over the centuries, mainly because it is not yet a major tourist destination. Located in the province of Lucca, Barga is home to around 10,000 people with Pania Della Croche, a mountain of the Apuan Alps, overlooking the town. Barga is still a largely rural town, surrounded by olive tree groves, chestnut trees and grape vines.

Barga was known to have been founded by the Lombards. In the Middle Ages, its fame grew thanks to the town’s excellence in producing silk threads, that were then exported to the mills in Florence and in the rest of Italy.

Attractions in Barga

The ancient castle of Barga is an intimidating sight. Located at a height of 410 meters on top of a hill, the castle was build mainly for defense purposes, but was also used as a private residence in the past centuries. The castle is still intact and has been beautifully restored. The looming image of the castle is the first thing that tourists notice when they come to Barga.

Home Delivery in Barga. Ph. flickr/Chris Eccles

The Ancient Gates

The town of Barga was protected in ancient times by massive walls parts of them are still intact, and can be seen in several areas of town. The three gates, once the town’s entry gates, are still intact. They are known as Porta Reale, Porta Borgo and Porta Machiaia. These gates are probably the oldest remaining monuments in Barga.

The Historic Center

The ancient historic center is the best place to visit in Barga. It was designed and built centuries ago and the structure has still remained the same. There are unbelievably narrow alleys that run into irregularly shaped ancient buildings, beautiful old houses and tiny shops.

The Duomo of Barga is the most important religious building in town. The collegiate is built in Romanesque style, which is quite typical to this valley. Built between the 11 th and 15 th century, it has a limestone façade. The interior of the cathedral is quite impressive there is a single nave with two aisles, a beautiful pulpit, a 16 th century bell and a large wooden sculpture of the patron of the town.

Barga, in Garfagnana, Tuscany. Ph. flickr/Luca Argalia

Conservatorio di Santa Elisabetta

The Conservatorio di Santa Elisabetta was an ancient monastery built in the 15 th century. There are spacious cloisters within the building, and the small nun’s chapel has a beautiful large cross, an altar designed by the Della Robbia School and some 17 th century paintings. The monastery was later used as a conservatorium for educating girls in the 18 th century, and remains an interesting place to visit because of its history and its interiors.

Getting to Barga

Barga can be reached easily by train from most major towns in the province of Lucca. Trains are quite regular and timetables and tickets are easily available from all train stations. However, getting to Barga from the other cities in Tuscany can be a little difficult as one or two trains might have to be changed to reach it. An easier way is to travel by bus: the government buses, as well as a few private bus services, have regular buses reaching Barga from various locations in the area. Most tourists visiting the town generally prefer to reach Barga by car. This is much more comfortable and easier.

Moving Around Town

Barga is quite a small town and the main attractions are located within the ancient walled center, which is character many winding streets and extremely narrow alleys so it is not possible to drive around in a car. The best way to explore it is on foot since it is quite compact and enjoyable when explored on foot. There is a public bus service available in Barga to reach the further areas of the town as well as for visiting the neighboring villages located outside the town boundaries.

Afternoon gossip in Barga. Ph. flickr/Art Crimes

Stay and Accommodation

Eating in Barga

Barga is a good place to try local Tuscan and Italian cuisine. Since Barga is mainly known for agriculture, the restaurants here use fresh local ingredients and good quality olive oil. Barga has quite a lot of good trattorias, pizzerias, restaurants and bars that serve simple, delicious fare. The pizzas here are a must for all visitors. Since the region is known for its excellent wines, almost all restaurants serve good quality local wines. Some of the best places to try while in Barga are II Bugno, II Pergolato, II Ponte and Alpino.

Shopping in Barga

Barga is mainly known for its agricultural produce. The region is known for its many olive grooves, chestnut trees, dairy farms and grape vines. Visitors who come to Barga can shop for great quality local wines that the region is famous for, extra virgin olive oil and some varieties of local cheeses. Local wines are available in all the wine shops in Barga. Olive oil is produced from the best quality olives, all grown locally so visitors can find good quality extra virgin olive oil in Barga.


Eating and drinking in Garfagnana, Tuscany

We have an affinity with Tuscany in our family. In particular, with the Garfagnana region around Barga. My mum and her husband (crumble munching Andy) have been visiting for almost 10 years after falling on the place by accident as part of their honeymoon.

I’ve been twice and my brother has been 3 times, this year I’m not going and my sister is, along with mum, Andy and my brother… so, as you can see, its a real love affair.

We have always stayed at the same place, a gorgeous villa owned by the lovely Antonio and Paola, called La Borracia , in Campo, near to the town of Gallicano. The views of the surrounding countryside are absolutely stunning and the food in that region is excellent too, its one of my favourite places in the whole world. With Lucca and Siena not too far away by car, culture is on your doorstep. Closer to home are Barga and Castle Neuvo, both bustling towns and full of great places to eat.


Cooking in Tuscany with Rita

A few years back we had an opportunity to take a couples trip with some of our best friends. We spent about 12 days in Europe between France and Italy, and covered a lot of ground (check out our Central Italy post on our site). As part of this itinerary, we decided to stay in a the small town of Barga, since there was a Marriott Renaissance property there and we used points.

One of the things we wanted to do when we were in Italy was to take an Italian Cooking class. When we checked-in to the hotel we noticed a sign advertising for an in-house cooking class.

After talking with the front desk, we learned that there was another cooking class that they highly recommended which was located in the city of Barga with a lady named Rita (and it was cheaper!). We gladly accepted and the font desk called and set everything up for the following day. As we left the front desk, we were told make sure to come hungry – WHICH IS VERY TRUE!!


Giulia Scarpaleggia is no stranger to the ins and outs of Tuscany, having lived in the region for more than a decade. It has been evident that she has been cooking up a storm from her kitchen, based on the sheer number of bone fide Italian recipes coming out from her blog Jul’s Kitchen . To this cooking instructor, Tuscany is a lot more than just the overcrowded squares of Florence and Siena. In this interview, Giulia left no stones unturned as she reveals her favourite eating spots, what a proper Tuscan meal is, and the other hill towns that you should visit apart from the obvious.

Photo: Juls’ Kitchen

What do you feel defines Tuscan cuisine?

The Tuscan cuisine that we know know is deeply influenced by cucina povera – peasant cooking of the previous century. Seasonal vegetables, beans and bread are staple ingredients. Stale bread is smartly reinvented in hearty recipes such as pappa al pomodoro , panzanella and ribollita .

What are some local dishes you feel travellers can’t leave Tuscany without trying?

It is strongly related to season. In Autumn, do not miss bruschetta – a char grilled bread rubbed with garlic and doused with olive oil. In Winter, ribollita is a must – a thick soup of stale read, beans, cavolo nero and other vegetables. Spring is all about fresh vegetables, like piselli alla fiorentina – peas with pancetta. Summer is the season of tomatoes, do not miss pappa al pomodoro and panzanella.

Tuscan panzanella with tomatoes and mozzarella. Photo: Juls’ Kitchen

Where are your favourite restaurants or cafés in Tuscany?

The cuisine of Agriturismo il Rigo in Val d’Orcia. Sbarbacipolla Biosteria and Bel Mi Colle in Colle val d’Elsa, Osteria Vecchio Mulino in Castelnuovo Garfagnana, Gino Cacino in Siena. So many great places.

Name one Tuscan dining etiquette most travellers miss

Do not eat pasta with your meat. They are two separate courses!

Photo: Juls’ Kitchen

When is your favourite time of the year to visit Tuscany?

My favourite months are October and November, when there are less tourists and the countryside is simply stunning. Plus it’s time for chestnuts, pumpkin, grapes and new olives. Nothing better!

Photo: Juls’ Kitchen

What would you recommend travellers do to experience Tuscany as a local?

Shop at a local market, listen to what the vendors are suggesting and cook according to the season.

Photo: Juls’ Kitchen

Where are your favourite Tuscan hill towns?

Casole d’Elsa near Siena, Barga near Lucca and Pitigliano in Maremma.

Name one best kept secret of Tuscany

Osteria Livornese , in Montelupo Fiorentino, is an amazing restaurant to eat fish near Florence.

Where can we go to see your favourite view in Tuscany?

It’s the view from my bathroom, in the countryside of Colle Val d’Elsa . So fun! All my friends and all the guests of cooking classes love it!

What makes Italian cooking so unique?

The cooking style is extremely simple, the ingredients are left to speak for themselves. There’s no need for overcomplicating with sauces or too many ingredients. Recipes are inspired by seasonality.

Photo: Juls’ Kitchen

Fried eggs and buristo. Photo: Juls’ Kitchen

When it comes to food, where in the world is your favourite destination?

Except from Tuscany, I love London, where you can experience possibly any cuisine in the world. I’m a big fan!


Hotel Review: Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa, Italy

Everyone loves a long weekend in Italy, but next time you’re considering a spontaneous getaway, why not head to the charming town of Barga?

A medieval town in the province of Lucca, Barga is home to around 10,000 people and some of the most beautiful Tuscan views. And tucked away in the mountains is the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa, the perfect base for those looking to explore this beautiful part of Italy.

My visit to the five-star hotel was a wonderful weekend of food and fitness al fresco, and included a chef’s masterclass, a relaxing yoga lesson and a day of water sports along the spectacular Fiume Serchio.

The Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa has stunning views across the Tuscan countryside

But first, I was to get acquainted with my surroundings at the stunning Marriott resort. The rooms at Il Ciocco offer breathtaking views of the Serchio Valley and Apuan Alps, as well as Barga’s old town. Spacious and simplistic, all rooms come complete with crisp, white bed linen, elegant marble bathrooms, and the deluxe options include your very own private balcony.

As the name suggests, the hotel is also home to a luxury spa where you can rejuvenate your senses with an array of massage, beauty and wellness therapies.

I was lucky enough to experience one of their signature treatments, the 50-minute Herbal Pindas full body massage, which uses sweet almond and essential lavender oil with pindas, which contains Tuscan herbs soaked in warm oil. Following your treatment, you can unwind further in the spa’s relaxation rooms and enjoy a cup of green tea or even enjoy a nap.

Spacious and simplistic, all rooms come complete with elegant marble bathrooms, and the deluxe options include your very own private balcony.

I’d worked up quite an appetite after my trip to the spa, so it’s a good thing I spent the next few hours learning how to make my very own pasta with the hotel’s Head Chef. An unforgettable experience – that not many hotels offer – guests at the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa have the chance to fully immerse themselves in Tuscan culture with this super fun activity.

Costing €170 per person, the activity includes a cooking experience based on a three-course menu proposed by the Chef, and afterwards sitting down to dinner and tasting the dishes you have prepared, along with some local wine. Guests are also given their very own chef’s hat and apron, along with a diploma and photos of the experience.

Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa have three restaurants: La Veranda, Le Salette, and Nour Lounge, so whether you’re keen for an Italian feast, or just a quick bite to eat, you’re sure to find something to tickle your tastebuds at one of these.

Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa have three restaurants: La Veranda, Le Salette, and Nour Lounge

And when you’ve enjoyed all the pizza, pasta and fine wine that Tuscany has to offer, why not work it off with an adrenaline pumping activity at E20 Adventure? Based just a short drive away in Bagni di Lucca, E20 is a 25 year old company and the first to offer water rafting in the region. As well as rafting, they also offer a variety of activities that span the three elements of water, earth and air, including Acqua Trekking.

If you’re not afraid to depart the raft and explore the water, then I would highly recommend going Acqua Trekking. Not only is it highly amusing as you tackle the cold temperatures and nature at it’s best, but you will see some of the best views that Tuscany has to offer, as well as the most crystal clear, blue waters. Prices start at €40.00 per person and you’re sure to finish the trek feeling a little damp, but with the biggest smile on your face.

The hotel is the perfect base for those looking to explore this beautiful part of Italy.

And if you find yourself feeling peckish again (who doesn’t when in Italy?!) then Agriturismo Pian di Fiume is the perfect place to pop to for lunch. Located in the centre of the medieval village, the restaurant certainly feels rustic with it’s exposed stone walls, wooden tables and cosy fireplace.

The traditional Tuscan cuisines served here is not only delicious, but also very affordable with a large bowl of pasta costing just €7. And to top it off, there’s the option to accompany your meal with local wines from the hills of Lucca.

But if that’s not enough for vino lovers, then I highly recommend taking a trip to the Podere Concori vineyard, which is also a short drive away from the hotel. Here you can learn all there is to know about this biodynamic vineyard and the exact process that occurs in order to make a tasty bottle of red or white wine. We were lucky enough to enjoy a wine tasting session alongside a delicious lunch, which included a bowl of homemade pasta and tasty Italian bread.

Il Ciocco’s outdoor space boasts a large terrace where guests can sunbathe and take a dip whilst overlooking the pristine Serchio Valley

And what better way to relax back at the hotel after an afternoon of eating and drinking? A nap by the swimming pool, of course. Il Ciocco’s outdoor space boasts a large terrace where guests can sunbathe and take a dip whilst overlooking the pristine Serchio Valley, also a perfect spot to grab that Instagram-worthy holiday snap.

So whether you’re stopping by for a spot of lunch al fresco, or keen to enjoy a long weekend in this stunning part of Italy, the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa has something for everyone and is sure to make your visit to Toscana an unforgettable one.

Rates at the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa start at £250 per night.


Eat Like a Sicilian: 15 Delicious Recipes from This Beautiful Italian Island

The island of Sicily is a collection of many wonderful things. Over centuries it has been influenced by a succession of invaders, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Islamic Arabs, and Spanish&mdashand it has the culinary inheritance to show for it. There's a brightness and simplicity to its food but also many layers of flavor. The local produce is amazing: We love its fragrant lemons, tender greens, and juicy tomatoes. In the rolling hills are wild fennel, pistachios, and almonds, and along the coast, anchovies, sea salt, and capers. We admire the piles of juicy peaches at the Ballaro market, and the live snails and trumpet-like squash and we ogle the purple octopus, massive tuna, and glimmering sardines in Catania.

From high to low, sweet to amaro, and everything in between, Sicily can seem like a series of contrasts: It is the aggressive heat of the beating sun and the delicate touch of a lemon ice. The rich, crunchy pastries with creamy ricotta fillings. It can be over the top, like Palermo's Baroque churches, ornate curves, dusty alleys, and loud markets. And it can be incredibly serene when you stand under towering Greek temples, amongst ancient olive trees, and in peaceful citrus groves, you can feel the quiet weight of the centuries. Sicily can be as decorative as a gold-leaf ceiling or a jewel-like cassata, and as poor and rugged as its bumpy country roads. It's a thrifty sprinkling of toasted breadcrumbs, a handful of briny olives, and bowl of pasta or couscous. Sicily is complex yet direct place that deserves exploring, whether in person or through its recipes.


Truffle hunting & Cooking Classes

If you want to delve deeper, check the other tours offered by Eating Europe. The Tuscany Truffle Hunt gives you the chance to go in search of truffles with an expert truffle hunter and his trusty dog. For anyone who wants to learn the secrets of Tuscan cooking there’s even an authentic Florence home cooking class, where you’ll first shop for ingredients at the market and then learn how to make your own pasta. And taste it of course!

For anyone who is passionate about food, these tours are delicious rite of passage in Florence and a chance to live the city like a local.

Tuscan truffles filed under: FOOD


Watch the video: ITALIA 03 TOSCANA