Central Italy Is Full Of Tasty Surprises

Today we will tempt our taste buds as we journey through central Italy. Starting in Tuscany, the birthplace of the Renaissance; we will then head to Umbria, the cradle of the Franciscan tradition; Le Marche, the birthplace of renowned opera composer Rossini; Lazio, best known as the birthplace of the Roman Empire; and finish in Abruzzo, where national parks and nature reserves cover much of its rugged interior.

Tuscany: where art and taste come together

This region enjoys a great gastronomic tradition, a rich array of typical products, representing the raw materials of a cuisine echoing past rural influences and the home to some of the best wines in the world.

Tuscan bread, with its hard crust and compact crumb, is in fact made without adding salt, legend says that this is because of a salt tax introduced by Pisa, when a dispute with Florence arose. The lack of salt marks it the ideal accompaniment to intense flavours, such as oil from the hills around Lucca. This ‘Olio Extra Vergine di Oliva’ is obtained from these varieties of olives ‘Frantoio’, ‘Frantoiano’ and ‘Leccino’ and is so precious that it has been awarded ‘DOP’ recognition [Denominazione di Origine Protetta].

Tuscan cuisine may be simple, but all its ingredients are of the highest quality. A perfect example is ‘Bistecca alla Fiorentina’ [Florentine T-bone Steak], taken from the Chianina breed of cattle, found only on the border with Umbria. The steak consists of a whole loin, cut thick, of 700 grams or more between two people and grilled with the absolute minimum of interference for about 20 minutes. It must not be turned frequently, nor forked as this would cause it to lose its tasty juice. Tradition dictates that once ready on both sides, it is held vertically over the fire, to make sure the meat attached to the bone, is also hot and then seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper before being served.

The culinary tradition of inland Tuscany is based on sausages, salamis, and hams, such as ‘Prosciutto cotto or crudo’ with its intense and penetrating flavour; antipasti such as ‘Panzanella’, a dried bread salad, softened in water and served with fresh tomato, red onion, cucumber, basil, and vinegar, or ‘Crostini Toscani’, slices of grilled bread, with various condiments on top, such as ‘Fegatini’ [Chicken liver paste], tomatoes, porcini mushrooms, and many more. First courses, such as ‘Pappa al Pomodoro’ based on tomatoes cooked with oil, garlic, basil, and pepper. Vegetable soups cooked for hours, adding a drizzle of oil before being served, such as the famous ‘Ribollita Fiorentina’, once a peasant dish, now trendy and popular.

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There are ‘Fagioli all’uccelletto’, another traditional Florentine recipe, or ‘al fiasco’, using a technique widespread in the province of Pisa, where the beans are placed in a flask with water, oil, rosemary, and other herbs, then cooked in hot embers. These traditional dishes are best enjoyed in an Agri-turismo and Tuscany boasts almost 5,000. One we highly recommend is Agriturismo Fattoria Albanese Labardi, located in the hills of Signa and only 20 minutes from Florence, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Tuscan countryside while tasting traditional dishes, made with ingredients from their own garden.

In Siena, the city of the Palio [an annual horse race in the central square of the city], the traditional Christmas specialty is ‘Panforte’, a cake made with almonds, flour, hazelnuts, cocoa, cinnamon, spices, and candied peel. If you visit Siena, you should definitely stop at ‘Antica Pasticceria Bini’, considered the best ‘Panforte’ shop in the region. From the Apuan Alps, in the north, comes ‘Lardo di Colonnata’ [cured belly pork], which was once eaten with bread by peasant workers in marble mines and now a delicacy sought after by connoisseurs.

Coastal cuisine’s most famous dish is ‘Cacciucco alla Livornese’, a fish soup from Livorno, whose main ingredient consists of mixing whatever seafood is in the kitchen, resulting in a fantastic spicy soup poured over a slice of toasted country bread, seasoned with garlic, fried tomatoes, and red-hot chili peppers. This coastline also boasts an excellent mixed dish of fried seafood, based on red mullet and the so called ’Cieche’ or ‘Cée’ in the local dialect [newly born and thus blind elvers] or alternatively with amazing calamari, shrimps, and anchovies. A must taste is the ‘Cecina’ a savory chickpea flat-pie typical from Cecina, a coastal town in the province of Livorno.

Wines & Liqueurs

Winemaking in Tuscany dates back to the Etruscans. Chianti wine was mentioned for the first time in the 1300s, when the ‘Lega del Chianti’ or ‘Chianti Guild’ was founded. These wines are ruby coloured, have an intense aroma, and are produced in the hills south of Florence.

Tuscany’s production is concentrated mainly on red wines, some world-famous, such as ‘Chianti DOCG’, ‘Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG’, and ‘Brunello di Montalcino’, the strong velvety, full-bodied red produced in the hills around Siena. Fine white wines include the elegant dry ‘Vernaccia di San Gimignano’ and ‘Galestro’ which is an excellent choice with seafood.

Tuscany also has a long-standing tradition of ‘Vinsanto’, a dessert wine traditionally enjoyed with ‘Cantucci’ crunchy biscuits made with large chunks of almond and originally from Prato, which are often dipped in the Vinsanto. With all the unique wines Tuscany has to offer, it is impossible to get bored or ever say “I tried them all”.

Festivals

The ‘Festa del Calderone’ [Cauldron Festival], held on July 25th in ‘Altopascio’, in the province of Lucca, evokes a medieval atmosphere where good wine and plates of pasta abound. Altopascio was around the year 1,000, an important pilgrims’ stopover on the way to Rome. The ‘Calderone’ was a large pan in which the friars from the ‘Order of the Hospitalers’ cooked food for pilgrims.

If you are in Florence at the end of June, and tough enough, do not miss the ‘Calcio Storico’, a mix of football and rugby, played since the Middle Ages, where kicking, fighting, and being rude is allowed and encouraged in order to win. On this day, Santa Croce Square is transformed into a huge sandpit, around which thousands cheer for the team from their ‘Quartiere’ [Neighbourhood].

Umbria: echoes of the Middle Ages

Umbria is not only the green heart of Italy, the cradle of the Franciscan tradition, and the setting for beautiful medieval towns; it is also rich with an incredible heritage of aromas and flavours. Umbria is one of the smallest regions in Italy, and entirely landlocked. In some parts of the region, you will believe you have travelled back in time to the Middle Ages. Indeed, it is not unusual to walk into a restaurant with traditional wooden long tables and see meat being cooked in the middle of the room, using the same method and hearth as it was centuries ago.

Some towns in Umbria are real gastronomic sanctuaries. Norcia, in the southeast of the region, is recognised as the birthplace of Italian ‘Salame’ and ‘Prosciutto’ production; Bastia Umbra is the home of ‘Porchetta’, a whole small pig, spit roasted and flavoured with herbs and spices. ‘Porchetta’ best highlights its flavours and aroma of spices when served lukewarm and inside a crusty sandwich. There is also a vast array of other specialties such as beef often served with sauces, game meat, and poultry; one of these is ‘Friccò all’Eugubina’ [Gubbio’s stew], which is made with mixed meats [chicken, rabbit, lamb, and pork cheek].

Umbria is home to a variety of the fragrant ‘Truffle’ called the ‘Tartufo Nero di Norcia’, a fierce culinary rival of the ‘Tartufo Bianco di Alba’ in Piedmont. The truffle has such an important tradition, that the Agri-turismo Ca’ Solare located in Città di Castello, in the province of Perugia, offers courses to learn the art of the‘Tartufaio’ [Truffle hunter].

If you want to taste excellent traditional, but at the same time innovative dishes of Umbrian cuisine, we strongly recommend you visit the Ristorante I Rodella l’Antico Forziere located in Deruta, in the province of Perugia. The restaurant is managed by twin chefs Andrea & Stefano Rodella, winners of the 2018 World Gourmet Society global challenge.

A good lunch would not be complete, without one of this region’s pasta dishes. These includes ‘Ciriole’, which are tagliatelle sautéed with oil and garlic, or meat ragù; ‘Spaghetti col Rancetto’ served with guanciale [Pig cheek, similar to bacon in taste but fattier], similar to the famous ‘Amatriciana’, but with added marjoram; ‘Maccheroni’, here known as ‘Strascinati’, with sausage, egg, and cheese; and ‘Embrici’, small home-made spaghetti, served with tomatoes, garlic, and abundant Pecorino cheese.

Not to be overlooked are the delicious soups such as ‘Acquacotta’ from Cascia, based on dry bread and tomatoes. Although Umbria has no coastline, it does have rivers and lakes such as Lago Trasimeno, from which a rich freshwater fish culinary tradition still brings local delicacies to our tables.

There is also a rich tradition of cakes and sweets such as ‘Pignoccata’ with pine nuts and honey dish, ‘Serpentone’ or ‘Attorta’, a snake-shaped sweet bread with almonds; and ‘Panpepato’ which blends the flavour of honey with that of pepper and various other spices. Perugia enjoys a cult like status for all the amazing varieties of ‘Cioccolata’ [Chocolate] you can enjoy.

Wines & Liqueurs

Both white and black grapes are grown in Umbria, with production divided almost equally between the two. The best-known wines of this region come from the Orvieto and Torgiano areas, the white is dry and fruity, ideal for seafood dishes, while the dry red is excellent with game and any other meat. In Torgiano, new wines such as ‘Rubesco’ and ‘San Giorgio’ are produced, but the classic ‘Torgiano Rosso Riserva DOCG’ remains at the top. Others include ‘Rosso di Montefalco’, ‘Bianco del Trasimeno’, and ‘Bianco di Città di Castello’. Umbria is home to a special kind of wine, the ‘Muffati’ [Mouldy] wines where the grape is attacked by the ‘Botrytis Cinerea’ mold.

In addition to wine trails passing through some of the most picturesque landscapes in Umbria, no self-respecting wine lover should miss ‘Cantine Aperte’ [open cellars], held on the last Sunday in May. It is important to note that with over 1,000 wineries participating, if you truly want to taste fine wines and local specialties, it may be a good idea to ask a friend to drive.

If beer is your thing, this region’s agricultural heritage has created one of the most vibrant brewing cultures in Italy, with major producers like Mastri Birrai Umbri, and award-winning micro-breweries like Suburbia IPA, Birrificio Artigianale Fortebraccio, and Birra dell’Eremo di Assisi.

Festivals

Over 1 million chocolate lovers from all over the world meet every October at ‘Eurochocolate’ and transform Perugia, the region’s capital, into a giant open-air wonderland with tastings, exhibitions, shows, conferences, and chocolate art.

In early May, make sure you visit the ‘Festa dell’Olio di Primavera’ in Trevi. The Extra Virgin Olive Oil from this city has been the olive oil of choice for the Popes throughout history. Here, you will be able to taste the locally produced oil right from farmers whose families have been producing it for centuries.

Umbrians are so proud of their truffle, that every year between October and late March, a whole series of events are organised from ‘Mostra Mercato’ in Valtopina, ‘Tartufo d’Oro’ in Gubbio, ‘Premio di Umorismo’ in Città di Castello and so on in Norcia, Fabro, and Scheggino.

Le Marche: the pleasure of a plural territory

Le Marche’s classic cuisine is a symbiotic mix of products of the land and the sea, with the region’s culinary symbol being the ‘Olive all’Ascolana’. These olives are stoned, stuffed with a mixture of mince, eggs, Parmesan cheese, and various herbs, before being dipped in beaten eggs and breadcrumbs and deep-fried in olive oil.

Another traditional dish is ‘Vincisgrassi’, lasagne with mushrooms, truffle, and chicken livers, covered with Parmesan cheese and then baked in the oven. Its name, even if Italianised, comes from Prince of Windisch-Graetz, who was an officer in the Austrian army fighting Napoleon. If you want to taste a real traditional Vincisgrassi Lasagne, stop for lunch at Poesia a Tavola restaurant in the town of Recanati, in the province of Macerata.

This region is home to an excellent breed of cattle, similar to Tuscany’s Chianina, whose meat is an integral part of a number of traditional local dishes. ‘Tournedos alla Rossini’, named in memory of the great musician Rossini, is a sumptuous dish of haute cuisine consisting of braised fillet of beef with ham, mushrooms, parsley, lemon, and a pinch of pepper. If you can visit Pesaro in August, attend the ‘Festival della Cucina Italiana’ [Italian Cuisine Fair], one of the most important food and wine events in the country, gathering the best of food, wine, and agri-food culture.

In Urbino, the local specialty is another tasty meat, ‘Braciola all’Urbinate’, a stuffed rolled joint of beef braised in white wine. There are also great choices of other meats, salami, and ham on offer. Fabriano, a town in the province of Ancona, is a favourite with gourmets, for its splendid ‘Prosciutto Affumicato‘ [smoked ham], while in Macerata, the unusual ‘Ciaùsculu’ is produced, a traditional sausage made with finely minced pork, and flavoured with garlic, salt, and pepper, which local trattorias serve spread on slices of toasted bread.

You will be able to find ‘Coniglio in Porchetta alla Marchigiana’ [Rabbit with Pork rind], with its traditional flavouring of wild fennel seeds everywhere. There are also treats for vegetarians and all who love their greens, such as a tasty local specialty ‘Misticanza’, a mixed salad of wild leaves.

When visiting coastal towns, try the region’s seafood specialty ‘Brodetto’, a fish soup cooked in two main versions, one from Ancona and the other from Porto Recanati – try them both and let us know which is your favourite.

Wines & Liqueurs

The origins of viticulture in the Marche dates back to the Etruscans, between the 10th and 8th centuries BC. Some of the most famous reds include ‘Sangiovese’, ‘Montepulciano’, and ‘Trebbiano’, there are also a number of varieties which have been given DOCG status, such as that from Matelica, the ‘Verdicchio di Matelica DOCG’, to which the ‘Verdicchio di Matelica Wine Trail’ is dedicated, and the ‘Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOCG’. Mention should also be made of the ‘Bianco dei Colli Maceratesi’ and the ‘Bianco del Metauro’. Should your schedule permit, we suggest a visit to the International Wine Label Museum in Cupramointana, in the province of Ancona, which houses a collection of over 40,000 wine labels from all over the world.

A wine worth mentioning is the ‘Vernaccia di Serrapetrona DOCG’ a red sparkling wine produced in dry and sweet versions, using a rather particular method. After the harvest, a part of the grapes is fermented, while a part is left to dry in order to increase its sugar level; the dried grapes are then pressed and added to the fermenting wine, causing a second fermentation, giving the wine its characteristic pink foam and unmistakable aromas.

If you are a beer-aficionado, you must visit the ‘Birrificio Mukkeller’ brewery, awarded ‘Best Brewery in Italy’ in 2019. The region also has a tradition of distillation with the best-known liqueurs being ‘Anisetta’ and ‘Mistrà’.

Festivals

One of the oldest food festivals held in this region is the ‘Sagra delle Frittelle’ [Fritters’ Festival] held in August in Massignano, in the province of Ascoli Piceno. In Urbino, the ‘Festa del Duca’ [the Duke’s Festival] is held in mid-August and is a total Renaissance immersion, with parades, dances, open air theatrical plays, and knights in armor challenging each other to duel.

Lazio: ancient and popular tastes

“When in Rome … there is no better way to start than with a ‘Bruschetta’, a slice of toasted bread rubbed with garlic and served with fresh diced tomato seasoned with salt, pepper, fresh basil, and doused with olive oil. Romans are passionate about their pasta and the best known is ‘Bucatini all’Amatriciana’, originally from the town of Amatrice, in the province of Rieti. Bucatini, a type of thick hollow spaghetti, is served with a sauce of bacon, tomatoes, chilli, and white wine, before being covered with grated Pecorino Romano cheese. If accompanied by a glass of autochthon white wine like ‘Civitella d’Agliano Grechetto IGT’ it tastes even better.

Then there is ‘Pasta alla Gricia’, a recipe very similar to Amatriciana and for this reason often referred to as ‘Amatriciana Bianca’ [White Amatriciana] because served without tomato.

Another famous dish is ‘Gnocchi alla Romana’, which tradition dictates should be eaten only on Thursday, although they are delicious on any day ending with a ‘y’. The gnocchi are made of semolina flour, milk, eggs, sliced, arranged in layers on a dish with grated cheese and butter, and finally browned in the oven before being served. ‘Rigatoni con la Pajata’ is another dish you need to try; it comprises of pasta tubes served in a sauce of veal intestines, cooked with tomatoes, peppers, parsley, olive oil, garlic, and white wine.

‘Spaghetti alla Carbonara’ is another world renowned classic dish, served in a sauce of raw eggs, guanciale, pepper, and Pecorino cheese. But do not be fooled, did you know the first carbonara recipe was published in the United States in 1952 in a guide entitled 'An extraordinary guide to what is cooking on Chicago’s Near North Side' In the review of Armando’s restaurant, the author reports a precise recipe and it is the carbonara we all know. The appearance of the first Italian recipe [but not as we know it today] is instead dated August 1954, when it appeared in the magazine La Cucina Italiana. There are various places in Rome where you can eat a good Carbonara, but one stands out, ‘Rosciali – Salumeria con Cucina’, a restaurant located near Campo de’ Fiori Piazza.

While Romans have even opened the Museo Nazionale delle Paste Alimentari to celebrate their love for pasta; there is no doubt they adore their tasty and strong flavoured meat, often served with vegetables. ‘Abbacchio alla Romana’ [Suckling lamb], which derives from the city’s deep-rooted rural tradition is a must try. Some bake Abbacchio in the oven, others ‘Alla Cacciatora’, which is pan fried with garlic, rosemary, anchovies, chilli, and white wine.

There is also a plethora of recipes for pork, although the king of them all, is without a doubt ‘Porchetta’, suckling pig flavoured with wild fennel and stuffed with fatty bacon, liver, and heart. Beef dishes include ‘Coda alla Vaccinara’ which consists of oxtail cut into sections, cooked in a rich ragù and flavoured with celery, sultanas, pine nuts, and dark chocolate. Another two which spring to mind are ‘Trippa alla Trasteverina’, tripe stewed in an earth ware dish with lardons, and ‘Saltinbocca alla Romana’, slices of veal rolled up with a slice of ham and flavoured with sage leaves, cooked in butter, and served piping hot.

The region also has a great tradition of both salt and freshwater fish dishes. Vegetables are also central to the region’s cuisine and globe artichokes are particularly popular; the local variety is called ‘Mammola’ and a famous recipe of ancient Jewish origins is ‘Carciofi alla Giudia’, a dish based on artichokes deep-fried in olive oil.

This region is also home to very tasty cheese, such as ‘Pecorino’ and ‘Ricotta’. The latter, is also used in some of the region’s traditional cakes such as ‘Crostata di Ricotta’ [Ricotta tart], made with short crust pastry and a mix of Ricotta, sugar, eggs, orange zest, sultanas, candied citron peel, and cinnamon. There are also ‘Frappe’ which are special sweets, fried in oil and prepared for ‘Carnevale’ [Carnival]. Another favourite is ‘Maritozzi’, sweet rolls containing cream, raisins, pine nuts, and candied peel.

Wines & Liqueurs

A characteristic of Lazio is the widespread family wine production, aimed at self-consumption; here families have been growing and drinking their own wine for centuries.

Many different wines are produced in Lazio, one of them being the dry white ‘Frascati’, the first DOCG in Italy. The ‘Castelli Romani Wine Trail’ passes through Frascati, Albano, Velletri, and Castel Gandolfo where you will find numerous farms, agritourism, taverns, hotels, country houses, and restaurants.

There are also excellent wines from Marino, Colli Albani, Colli Lanuvini, Viterbo and Frosinone. Montefiascone, near Lago Bolsena, is where a truly strange name has been given to a white wine, which has acquired legend status, ‘Est! Est! Est!’. Legend has it, that the name came to be when Henry V, King of Germany, visited Rome and sent his servant to find the best wine taverns and write ‘Est!’ [‘Here it is’ in Latin] on the outside. When he arrived in the little town of Montefiascone, he found wine so delicious he had ‘Est!’ written on each tavern three times, thus 'Est! Est! Est!'.

Festivals

Every June, the town of Nemi, in the Metropolitan City of Rome, hosts the ‘Sagra delle Fragole’ [Strawberries’ Festival] on the shores of its lake. A massive cup is filled with strawberries and doused with sparkling ‘Fragolino’ wine, which is made from a variety of strawberry flavoured grapes. A not to be missed dessert is vanilla gelato garnished with strawberries, nor the wines and liqueurs flavoured with strawberries, which can be tasted at the many stalls in the town’s main streets.

If you are in Lazio during the last weekend in August, do not miss the ‘Sagra degli Spaghetti all’Amatriciana’ in Amatrice, where you can taste this world-famous dish in its town of origin. Home-made spaghetti, savoury ‘Guanciale’, and ‘Pecorino di Amatrice’ will take you to food-heaven in no time at all.

Abruzzo: loyalty to tradition

This is probably the region most loyal to its traditions, rituals, and mysteries of its culture. The region’s gastronomy is strongly characterised by its mountains, which for centuries, practically separated it from the rest of Italy.

The people of Abruzzo not only give prime importance to food as a joy to taste buds, but also as a way of communicating and this is best seen in the ‘Panarda’, a banquet where food is transformed into an effective means of communicating. This is a real food ritual, celebrated in many towns in honour of Sant Anthony Abbot, but nowhere better than in Villavallelonga, a small town in the area of the Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo, one of Italy’s most important national parks and encompassing some of the highest mountains in the Apennines. The most incredible feature of the Panarda is the quantity of dishes and the etiquette which forces diners to do honour to the cuisine, by eating everything.

A dish which showcases the magic and spirituality of the Abruzzian culinary tradition is ‘Le Virtù Teramane’, something between a minestrone and a soup cooked for three days. According to tradition, its preparation requires 7 types of vegetables, 7 types of meat, 7 types of dried pulses, 7 types of fresh pulses, and 7 types of pasta. Even the herbs must be 7 in number. Still today in both private houses and restaurants in the area of Teramo, this minestrone is cooked on May 1st, celebrating Spring’s harvests, which have just ended. To taste a Virtù of true excellence, we suggest a visit to the town of Isola del Gran Sasso d’Italia in the province of Teramo where you will find the ‘Gran Sasso’ restaurant at 450 meters above sea level.

This province offers a rich sample of landscapes, culinary flavours, and cultural links to both central and southern Italy, best seen by driving a little over 30 min from the coast up into the hills. Here you will enjoy a vast array of elegant fine dining restaurants or local trattorias and treat yourself to Pantagruelian culinary delights. The obvious starting point is with the abundant selection of pasta dishes, with the place of honour going to ‘Maccheroni alla Chitarra’, usually served during the Panarda. This dish is prepared using a small frame, across which metal wires are stretched and a sheet of pasta passed through cutting it into long rectangular strips [looks like flat spaghetti]. The Maccheroni are then cooked in salted water and served with lamb ragù, or tomato and basil sauce.

There are also recipes related to the region’s sheep farming industry such as ‘Catturo’, where the lamb is cooked in a large copper pot with fatty bacon, onions, and chilli, and products such as ‘Formaggio di Pecora’ [sheep’s cheese] or ‘Pecorino di Farindola’, the only cheese in the world prepared with pork rennet. Pigs occupy an important role in the agri-food economy of central and southern Italy, so much so that in the town of Carpineto Sinello in the province of Chieti, a pig museum has been built. Also, worth tasting are the salami and hams, such as ‘Mortadella di Campotosto’ or ‘Salsicce di fegato’ [liver sausages].

If something sweet is your Achilles’ heel, you must try ‘Confetti’ [sugared almonds] from Sulmona, which are not only delicious, but often real works of art generally consumed during baptisms and weddings. ‘Sassi d’Abruzzo’ [Stones of Abruzzo] are toasted and sugar-covered almonds which look like small stones. A typical dessert is ‘Mostaccioli’, prepared at any time of the year, but especially in the post-Easter period when kilos of chocolate are leftover.

Wines & Liqueurs

The Etruscans introduced viticulture to Abruzzo; this region’s wine is characterised by a large presence of native vines, both white and red varieties. ‘Montepulciano d’Abruzzo’, which finds its perfect habitat in the rolling hills right under the high peaks of Abruzzo’s mountains is perhaps the best known. This grape variety is the basis of the region’s most important wines, such as: ‘Montepulciano d’Abruzzo delle Colline Teramane DOCG’ and ‘Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC’, both perfect to accompany pasta and meat dishes; ‘Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC’, a smooth white, ideal with antipasti, fish, and soft cheeses; and the red ‘Cerasuolo’, excellent with salami and ham.

Do not miss the ‘Strada del Vino Controguerra’ wine trail, where you will feel that time has stopped while you travel through ancient villages and admire all the beautiful sceneries Abruzzo can offer.

A traditional grape liquor from the region is ‘Vino cotto’ [boiled wine], which is not sold as wine but as an agricultural product. Boiled wine involves boiling the grapes to reduce the volume of the liquid by about 30%, resulting in a light amber colour, due to the caramelisation of the sugars. The grapes are then fermented, resulting in a sweet wine with notes of jam, liquorice root, and spices. It goes well with practically all dry sweets.

Festivals

In Fara San Martino, a small town in the province of Chieti, every year on June 29th, the ‘Sagra della Pasta’ [Pasta Festival] is held and includes characteristic banquets on the banks of the river Verde.

If visiting Abruzzo in late June, a must do is the ‘Giostra Cavalleresca’ [Knight’s Joust] in Sulmona in the province of L’Aquila, where you will enjoy parades, knights duelling for their honour, while you enjoy dishes prepared according to medieval recipes.

…………………….. o ……………………..

During the last 2 months, our culinary adventure took from Italy’s North West to the North East; today we travelled through Italy’s Central region, but stay tuned as next month we enjoy the colours and flavours of Southern Italy’s best of the best.

Once again, I would like to thank Vegetarian Chef Paolo Baratella, Carlo Asmar, and Camille Asmar, all members of Italian Dining Summit Florence chapter, for their editorial assistance in bringing this article to fruition. These are their LinkedIn profiles:
Camille Asmar: https://www.linkedin.com/in/camilleasmar/
Chef Paolo Baratella: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paolo-baratella/
Carlo Asmar: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carlo-asmar-4b36b0176/


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