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Regions of Italy

Regions of Italy

A FOOD AND WINE JOURNEY THROUGH LIGURIA

28/10/2019

 

Liguria is a north-western Italian region overlooking the sea. Its coast, known as Ligurian Riviera, is one of the most panoramic roads in the world. Enclosed between the sea and mountains, the region offers inimitable specialties, in which the marine flavours blend with those of the land, creating a contrast which is hard to find elsewhere. Let us discover the tastes and scents of this magnificent area.

When talking of Ligurian specialties, it is a must to start with His Majesty the pesto, the world-famous symbol of this region. It is a Genovese basil-based sauce to pair with pasta and other foods. The official recipe includes 7 ingredients, not one more, not one less: PDO Genovese basil, PDO Riviera Ligure extra virgin olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Pecorino Fiore Sardo cheese, pine nuts, garlic, and salt.

There is another local specialty that is strictly linked to the preparation of pesto: PDO Riviera Ligure extra virgin olive oil. As a result of the region’s olive growing tradition, the product boasts 6 cultivars and 3 geographical indications: Riviera dei Fiori, Riviera del Ponente Savonese, and Riviera del Levante. With its fruit fragrance and aftertaste of pine nut and artichoke, it is a true world-class excellence.

Riviera Ligure extra virgin olive oil is the basis of numerous local recipes: above all, the legendary focaccia, a typical oven-cooked flatbread. It comes in many different forms: when filled with Recco cheese, it boasts the PGI mark of excellence; when sweet, it is known as “stroscia di Pietrabruna”, a true delight!

Liguria stands out for many other Slow Food presidia too, which it is constantly seeking to protect through designations of origin. There are 15 in total: Sciacchetrà delle Cinque Terre wine; Vallebona orange blossom water; Badalucco, Conio, and Pigna beans; Brigasca sheep; Perinaldo artichoke; Vessalico garlic; purple asparagus of Albenga; Calizzano and Murialdo chestnuts; chinotto (a myrtle-leaved orange based soft drink) of Savona; local fishery of Noli; Valleggia apricots; rose syrup; cabannina cattle breed of the Aveto Valley; Val di Vara black rooster; tonnarella small-scale tuna fishing of Camogli.

The heroic Ligurian vine-growing tradition, with its vines planted on uneven patches by means of ingenious and steep terraces overlooking the sea, produces wines worthy of notice: the Sciacchetrà delle Cinque Terre, made with Bosco and Albarola grapes, even in its straw wine version; Vermentino di Ponente; Rossese di Dolceacqua; Pornassio; Val Polcevera; and the wines of the Colli di Luni and Golfo del Tigullio areas.

Regions of Italy

A FOOD AND WINE JOURNEY THROUGH TUSCANY

03/10/2019

 

Tuscany is a region in central Italy; Florence is its capital city, birthplace of the Renaissance and UNESCO World Heritage site since 1982. The area is mostly made up of hills (66%), but does also include some plain land (9%) and important mountains (25%).
Moving away from the cities of art such as Florence, Siena and Pisa, we find ourselves in an equally enchanting atmosphere with centuries-old villages nestling in the hills and churches in the remotest of places. From the mosaic of vines in Chianti via the vertiginous heights of the Apuan Alps, where the renowned Carrara marble is quarried, to the plains of Maremma, the Tuscan countryside offers an infinity of breathtaking views. Tuscany’s excellent wines and olive oil – one of the best in the world – are the perfect accompaniment to the region’s cuisine: simple and rustic but of the utmost quality. Here is a selection of the delicacies the region has to offer.

Bistecca alla Fiorentina
When thinking of Tuscan food, the first thing to spring to mind is the Florentine steak. Cooked on the grill, it is the loin cut, the upper part found halfway along the back of the Chianina steer. As the name implies, this delicacy is linked to the city of Florence – which is where you need to head to enjoy it.

Lardo di Colonnata
Another exquisite delicacy of this land, which cannot be overlooked during an oenogastronomical tour of Tuscany, is Colonnata Lard. An IGP product of the region, it is named for the town from which it originates in the province of Carrara, on the Apuan Alps. It derives from swine lard, which is then aged in Carrara marble cases.

Ribollita
One of Tuscany’s more wintertime foods is Ribollita. This bread-based soup is made without salt, with cabbage, onion, carrot and beans. It is a dish to be served hot, and you can taste its peasant origins.

Torta Co’ Bischeri
This delicious sweetmeat from the Pisan area takes its name from the folds of puff pastry, known in fact as “bischeri”. Inside you find a delicious mix of chocolate, raisins, egg, nutmeg, pine nuts and liqueur.

Caciucco
In Livorno, on the Tuscan coast, you can find a dish that has become a national legacy: caciucco. It is a mix of squid and molluscs, pan-cooked and served on garlic-infused bread and tomato sauce.

Pecorino di Pienza
The wonderful region of Tuscany is not only famous for its cuisine: it is also the birthplace of many top quality gastronomical products. In the Val d’Orcia, we can enjoy the famous Pecorino di Pienza cheese.

Finocchiona
Another immortal symbol of Tuscany is the finocchiona, a cold meat renowned not only for its long aging but the use of fennel seeds in its production.

Tuscany’s wines
No oenogastronomical itinerary of Tuscany is complete without a tour of the region’s best wines. One of the most scenic areas is the Chianti valley: here you can embark on tours of the vineyards
and tastings of the best wines, sampling the various denominations.
The picturesque scenery of Montalcino is home to one of the most important wines in the world: Brunello. The ultimate wine that you cannot miss is the Nobile di Montepulciano, a red wine produced in the province of Siena.

Regions of Italy

A FOOD AND WINE TRIP ACROSS LOMBARDY

02/09/2019

 

Lombardy is a north-western region of Italy, n°1 in the country in terms of population, and n°4 in terms of surface area. With its lakes, plains, and mountains, it spans an area that is extremely complex on a geomorphological level, but at the same time beautiful and rich in high-quality raw material, which is the basis of a considerably interesting history of food and wine tradition. Lombard products are a crucial link in the Italian food and agricultural chain, thanks to an unparalleled heritage including 250 traditional products of excellence, with 34 having PDO or PGI designations, and 41 wines having DOCG (designation of controlled and guaranteed origin), DOC (designation of controlled origin), or IGT (designation of typical geographic indication) designations. Let us now discover the main regional specialties together.

Vineyards

Vines are grown in Lombardy ever since prehistory, as the numerous findings along lakes Garda and Iseo reveal. The region’s vineyards stretch out across 30,000 hectares (over 74,000 acres), along an area that is 50% flatland, 45% hill, and 5% mountainous. This particular geographic combination is the prerequisite for a wide range of top-notch and organoleptically diverse wines. The region boasts 5 DOCG, 21 DOC, and 15 IGT wines. The most common native vines are Chiavennasca, Colombaia, Erbamat, Invernenga, Lambrusco Viadanese, Marzemino, Pignola, Rossola, and Vespolina.

Traditional products

Culinary specialties exist all across the region, defining food and wine trails across a varied and evocative landscape. Lombardy features an impressive cheesemaking tradition, including alpine, fresh, and aged cheeses, such as the PDO Bitto, the Bagoss di Bagolino, the PDO Formai De Mut dell’Alta Valle Brembana, the PDO Quartirolo Lombardo, the PDO Strachitunt, the PDO Casera della Valtellina, and the PDO Taleggio. Finally, there are the PDO Grana Padano and the PDO Gorgonzola, which are among the most famous Italian cheeses worldwide. The region boasts an equally astounding selection of cured meats: the PGI Bresaola Valtellina, the PDO Salame Brianza, the PDO Salame Varzi, and the PGI Salame d’Oca di Mortara goose salami are all absolutely worth a taste! Moreover, there are the PDO Varesino di Acacia honey, the PDO Oliva Garda extra virgin olive oil, and – among fruit and vegetables – the PGI Cantello asparagus, the PGI Valtellina apple, and the PGI Mantovano melon.

Milan

Milan is the capital of Lombardy. Following the 2015 Expo, the city has turned into a point of reference for food lovers and a popular destination among international tourists searching for the latest trends in high-quality food services. The city hosts 5% of all Italian food services, and 1/7 of all wine bars. The main food delivery companies have its headquarters in Milan. Furthermore, the most celebrated international chefs regularly stop here for events and cooperation initiatives. Expo 2015 has paved the way for a profusion of events, food markets, and food trucks without comparison on a national level. This has also been possible thanks to the city’s architectural rebirth, with the restoration of ancient splendour and redevelopment of a large number of neighbourhoods.

Regions of Italy

A FOOD AND WINE JOURNEY THROUGH SICILY

01/08/2019

 

As the crossroads of the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily continues to seduce travellers with its impressive variety of landscapes and cultural treasures. When speaking of this region, one shall not forget that it is the largest island of Italy and of the Mediterranean, as well as the 45th biggest in the world. Thanks to its climate and conformation – 60% hillside, 25% mountainous, and the remaining 15% flatlands – Sicily brings to the table a wine and food heritage of an incredibly high level. Products that form the basis of a unique cuisine, resulting from the influences of the Greek, Arab, and Norman cultures that have dominated the island over the centuries.

Vineyards

With its estimated 107 thousand hectares (over 264 thousand acres), the area of Sicily dedicated to vine growing is one of the most prominent in Italy. The impressive body of Sicilian wines – due to both the vine variety and climate – has made it so that the top names have strived even on international markets. The most common red grape varieties include Nero d’Avola, Frappato, Nerello Mascalese, and Nocera. White grape varieties include, instead, Grillo, Catarratto, Grecanico, Malvasia di Lipari, Zibibbo, and Inzolia. Moreover, an aromatic wine named after the city it was born in and where it continues to be produced is made by using some of the said native grapes: the Marsala.

Traditional Products

Every area of Sicily boasts traditional products, tracing wine and food itineraries across the island, in a varied and evocative agricultural landscape. The three main mountain ranges of Sicily are the Peloritani, the Nebrodi, and the Madonie, but they are all looked upon by the cone of Mt. Etna (3,263 metres a.s.l./10,705 feet a.s.l.), Europe’s tallest volcano. Its ashes are the secret to the high fertility of the Catania plain, the vastest and most cultivated area of the island. It is in this area that the PGI Arancia Rossa di Sicilia (red orange of Sicily) –one of the region’s symbols – is produced, along with the PDO Pistacchio Verde di Bronte (green pistachio of Bronte).
 Other local products that have obtained an EU certification are the PDO Fico d’India dell’Etna (prickly pear of the Etna), the PGI Cappero di Pantelleria (caper of the Pantelleria area), the PGI Pomodoro di Pachino (tomato of Pachino), and the PDO Oliva Nocellara del Belice (nocellara olive of the Belice River valley). The latter allows the extraction of a particularly sophisticated product:the PDO Valli Trapanesi extra virgin olive oil. Another Sicilian oil boasting a Protected Designation of Origin is the PDO Monti Iblei, which is named after the South-East Sicily mountain range. But the region’s high-class oil production does not stop here: there are also the PDO Monte Etna, made among the olive groves at the foot of the volcano, the PDO Valle del Belice, produced in the province of Trapani, the PDO Val di Mazara, and the PDO Valdemone.
We shall end this tour of most famous Sicilian specialties with two cheeses. The first – made strictly using cow milk – is the PDO Ragusano, produced in about 15 towns in the provinces of Ragusa and Syracuse. It is instead sheep that make possible another masterpiece among typical Sicilian products: Pecorino Siciliano. It is a hard cheese made using fresh sheep milk and aged for at least 4 months.

Regions of Italy

A FOOD AND WINE TRIP ACROSS SARDINIA

01/07/2019

 

It is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily and before Cyprus. Geographically, it is located west of the Italian peninsula and immediately south of the French isle of Corsica. We are talking about Sardinia, globally one of the most famous Italian regions of all.
A place of opposites and strong traditions, the island preserves – season after season – its intact attraction: from the coastal locations, to the VIP tourism, to the uncontaminated mountain areas, every corner of this region is a pleasure for the eyes and soul. Not to mention the palate: Sardinia’s precious food and wine offer brings to the table products of excellence and authentic flavours derived from its agricultural and pastoral heritage. In this article you will find out that as well as having the most beautiful sea in the world, Sardinia is also a true island of taste!

Vineyards and winemaking in Sardinia
A large number of vines are grown in the different areas of the region – each with its own microclimate – and give life to local specificities boasting designations of origin. In fact, the island features 15 IGT (typical geographic indication) and 17 DOC (designation of origin) wines, as well as 1 DOCG (designation of controlled origin) wine.
Among the most renowned there are: the Cannonau,a full-bodied wine recognized as the most ancient wine of the Mediterranean Basin; the Vernaccia di Oristano, from another ancient vine, with references made to it already in the Phoenician-Punic era; and the Vermentino, a white wine made in Cagliari, Nuoro, Oristano, and Sassari.Other appreciated red grape varieties are: the Bovale, grown in Campidano, between Cagliari and Oristano; the Carignan, grown inthe Sulcis area, South Sardinia;theMonica, grown in theCagliari and Oristano areas; and the Nieddera, also grown in the Oristano area.

Sardinian cheeses
Cheeses are a symbol of the Sardinian pastoral culture: sheep, goat, cow, and mixed milk aged cheeses, along with fresh cheeses such as ricottaandcasu axedu(‘acid curd’).Sardinian sheep belong to a native breed with extremely ancient origins and a high milk production. The region’s 3 DOP sheep cheeses are fresh and aged Pecorino Sardo, Fiore Sardo, and Pecorino Romano, also produced in Lazio and Tuscany.

Other traditional products
The island’s food and wine tradition includes other delicacies and specialties for added delight at the table.A popular product is the Zafferano di Sardegna DOP (saffron of Sardinia), grown in the San Gavino Monreale, Turri, and Villanovafranca areas in particular (all in the province of South Sardinia). Among most appreciated fish products, there is the bottarga, deriving from mullet eggs and produced in Cabras (Oristano), Cagliari, Tortolì (Nuoro), Sant’Antioco (South Sardinia), and Terralba (Oristano). Beekeeping gives life to eucalyptus, asphodel, acacia, and orange blossom honey, and the more aromatic chestnut blossom and thyme honey. Finally, there is bread, an important presence at the Sardinian dinner table: there is the thin and crunchy sheet of bread named carasau – made especially in the Barbagia area (Nuoro) – and the Civraxu di Sanluri – produced in large loaves with a dark crust and a bodily inside.