Italiadelight Thu, 30 Apr 2020 14:38:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://1.0 Lentils from Onano: traditional foods from Tuscia Thu, 30 Apr 2020 13:43:42 +0000 Read more]]> Let’s discover together the Onano lentils, one of the Italian traditional foods that are still little known around the world…

Do you know about the lentils from Onano? They are famous legumes from the Upper Tuscia area in Lazio! Although they are still little known to the public, they are one of the finest Italian foods.

My name is Giorgio Purificato: I am an emerging chef, pastry chef and Food Ambassador of Italia Delight. Today I will teach you what makes Onano lentils so special and how to cook this delicious legume at home.

emerging chef

My work and my curiosity about the best foods from Italy often lead me to discover new Italian traditional foods and traditional dishes. This is the case of the lentils from Onano…

This small village situated in the upper Tuscia area in Lazio, where there are many natural wonders and the little lentil production is carried out according to the rhythms of nature, gives its name to these lentils: in fact, this municipality in the province of Viterbo and a few other neighbouring municipalities are the only ones to have the privilege to grow a particular variety of this legume.
How do lentils grow? Growing lentils from Onano means using small plots of land from the area characterised by a volcanic soil.

The harvest is done strictly by hand and the entire lentil plant is uprooted.
In fact, these lentils have a round, flattened and small shape, with a very thin skin but they are resistant enough to cooking; on the palate, they have got a very pleasant taste.
All these factors make Onano lentils versatile ingredients: they are perfect for both stewed recipes and vegetable soups, or to go with Italian meat dishes.

The history of lentils from Onano

The Onano lentils have got an ancient tradition, that can be found in many written records, such as in the “Orders, statutes, municipal laws of the community of the people of Onano” dating back to 1561, where sanctions were prescribed for those who were caught stealing or damaging the legumes.
In the seventeenth and following centuries, this small legume arrives at the table of the papal court at Vatican, where it finds great success so much that it takes the name of “Lentil of the Popes”.

the papal court at vatican
Among the funniest anecdotes about the Onano lentils, one stands out over the others: it has got Pope Pius IX as the protagonist and it is reported by the Hon. Giulio Andreotti in his “The charade of the papi mastai” book.
In fact it is said that the Pope, after the loss of temporal power, consoled himself with a plate of Onano lentils procured him by Cardinal Prospero Caterini, a fellow citizen from Onano.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, these legumes were honoured in several international awards: in fact, the Onano lentils were often the protagonists of many international exhibitions, such as the ones held in Rome, Buenos Aires, London and Paris.
Every year, in August, the Lentil Festival is held in Onano in order to make known culinary recipes with a traditional flavour, enjoy magic moments in the historic village near Rome and celebrate the traditional foods of the village.

Tips for cooking lentils

How to make lentils? In order to prepare excellent Onano lentils, regardless of the use that you will make of them, it is advisable to take some precautions. I will show you how to cook dried lentils!

Lentils must be rinsed thoroughly to remove dust and kept in a freshwater bath (with little mineral presence) for an hour.

lentils from onano italy

In a saucepan, preferably a non-stick one, carry out the following steps to cook lentils:

_ prepare a good sauté with plenty of celery, carrot and onion
_ drizzle with a good extra virgin olive oil and half a glass of water
_ cover with a lid, light the flame, which must be very low, and fry gently for half an hour, checking occasionally for water to prevent the sauté from burning.
_ once the thirty minutes have elapsed, remove the lid, raise the flame and cook the vegetables for a while.
_ at this point, we insert the Onano lentils which have been previously drained and covered with water, together with an aromatic bunch (sage, rosemary, bay leaf, etc.), and we cook them with a lid on low heat and without salt, because the salt tends to wrinkle the skin, so it is advisable to salt them at the end of cooking. Occasionally check for water.
_ once the desired cooking is reached, remove our Onano lentils from the heat and leave to rest.

Vegetarian recipes with lentils

This is a basic recipe for Onano lentils. From here, you can start to make a thousand veggie recipes with these Italian traditional foods: for example, if you want to make lentil soup, just add more water and the pasta and then cook.

veggie recipes with lentils

Or you can strain and season the Onano lentils with only salt and a good extra virgin olive oil PDO.

Or you can also prepare a vegetable base recipe with garlic, oil and hot pepper where the Onano lentils will be sautéed and, if desired, you can add tomatoes.

Finally, the lentils from Onano can be blended by adding a little cooking water and extra virgin olive oil to make a lentil cream soup, which can be blended again (depending on the taste or refinement you want to obtain) in order to remove the skin.

Did you like the article on Italian lentils? Tuscia is a territory rich in history, nature and traditional foods: you can discover and taste the famous Canino extra virgin olive oil PDO directly with the producer Paolo, or visit Luca’s fine chocolate factory and taste delicious chocolate crafts and chocolate spreads such as hazelnut cream from Tuscia, hazelnut chocolate spread, the hazelnut spread without chocolate and much more! What could be better for a weekend to discover Italian traditional food in the region of Lazio?


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What to do with strawberries? Risotto! Fri, 17 Apr 2020 10:18:01 +0000 Read more]]> Let’s learn simple and quick recipes for nice dinners

What to eat for dinner? With the Italian website dedicated to risotto and its recipes,, let’s see what to do with strawberries and how to colour our dishes in a period when the rule is “stay at home”. Today we cook strawberries, the red fruit par excellence. We will make a nice strawberry risotto.

The health benefits of the strawberry

If you want to know about the health benefits of strawberry, firstly consider that strawberries are healthy foods that can improve your mood. But where are strawberries grown? Even those who have not a green thumb, or worse who have not any spaces to grow strawberries from seeds such as a vegetable garden and garden, can try their hand at growing strawberry plants in a vase. Big or small, good or bad, you will be perfectly growing strawberries indoors! Strawberries are then colourful, refreshing and sweet.

What to do with strawberries? Risotto!

Even just for the colour, it is worth trying a risotto with red fruits! Strawberries also have many properties and contains a range of important nutrients: for example, they are diuretic and purifying, they contain a lot of water and vitamins. But also calcium, iron and phosphorus. Regarding strawberry nutritional value, calories in strawberry are low and they satisfy your appetite, so they are ideal for those who follow a low-calorie diet or still want to pay attention to calories.

Finally, strawberries are healing: they can relieve the hassles of herpes on the lip (you have to lean on a slice), prevent plaque on the teeth and fight bad breath.

What to do with strawberries? Strawberry risotto

What to do with strawberries? Strawberry risotto can be made in two ways: in the classic recipe, you need to toast the rice, cook it by gradually adding vegetable broth, add strawberry puree and decorate your risotto after whisking the rice with butter and grated cheese.

strawberry risotto

Or you can try the recipe for strawberry risotto without vegetable broth: in this case, we only need hot water. The strawberries will be added into small pieces, pressing them lightly with a wooden spoon to let the juice flow out. And after whisking the rice, we will decorate the strawberry risotto with fresh strawberries. This is certainly the best way to enjoy the natural strawberry flavour. For a more romantic and sparkling idea for dinner, the risotto champagne and strawberries is certainly an evergreen among the recipes using strawberries, but that’s another story!

Did you like the article on what to do with strawberries and strawberry risotto? Book now your food experience in Piedmont with the Expert Giulia and find out more about the fascinating world of Italian rice!


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Pesto genovese, the authentic Italian pesto Fri, 17 Apr 2020 09:39:53 +0000 Read more]]> Pesto genovese: history of pesto and traditional pesto sauce recipe

What is pesto? What is pesto made of? Let’s discover together with Laura Bullio, Sommelier and Food Ambassador of Italia Delight, the Pesto genovese, the second pasta sauce in the world, which must be used strictly cold, but leaving free space for imagination…

History (s) of Pesto genovese

Writing an article on pesto genovese is like climbing the Matterhorn (as a mountaineering enthusiast), that is talking about one of the most famous sauce for pasta of world cuisine, the second best-known, eaten and sold pasta sauce in the world. So I start with a personal note, not thinking of adding anything new or original, but with the memory of who (the undersigned), when she arrived in Genoa in 2008 for work, as a passionate about cooking, in 2009 she signed up, for fun, to the preliminary rounds of the then new World Pesto Championship (we will discuss about it at the end…), which has now become a world competition. I came out defeated from the very first qualifying rounds, but with a nice Italian marble mortar and pestle (essential to allow the pulping of the pesto ingredients in a correct way), a deep pain in the wrist for months (because the beating movement of the pesto ingredients foresees a very accentuated and prolonged twist of the wrist) and many pesto jars in the freezer (because I trained to make pesto genovese every evening and therefore production had become unthinkable to dispose of!).

pesto genovese

Concluded this small personal dissertation, we come to the historical news that connote the birth of pesto and place it relatively recently. The recipe for pesto, as we know it today, does not in fact have very ancient origins and dates back to the mid-nineteenth century. The first to mention the pesto genovese is in fact a well-known gastronomist of the time, Giovanni Battista Ratto, who in his work, “La Cuciniera genovese”, proposes the following recipe for pesto: “Take a clove of garlic, basil (baxaicö) or if not of this marjoram and parsley, Dutch cheese and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated and mixed together, the pignoli and pounded all in a marble mortar with a little butter until it is reduced to fresh pesto sauce. Dissolve it then with fine extra virgin olive oil in abundance. With this pesto sauce, the lasagna and the gnocchi (troffie) are seasoned, adding a little warm water without salt to make it more liquid”. Compared to the current recipe for pesto genovese, there is the Dutch cheese, widespread in Genoa due to maritime trade with the countries of Northern Europe, and basil and marjoram as alternatives to parsley, due to the strict seasonality of basil growing at that time.

Despite its relative recentness, the original pesto genovese seems to date back to the evolution of a much older one, the aggiadda (agliata), a thirteenth-century garlic-based mortar sauce that was used for the preservation of cooked foods, and meeting the aromatic herbs, of which Liguria is traditionally the cradle, gave rise to this extraordinary type of sauces.

Recipe for pesto genovese

Now we start by explaining its correct name, which is “Pesto Genovese”, without any additional preposition such as “Pesto alla genovese”, as defined by the Consortium and by the pesto production specification that has precisely established how to make pesto and sell pesto genovese with the consortium’s trademark.

And here is the traditional recipe for pesto genovese, quantities and procedure for learning how to make pesto, the home made pesto from Genoa with Italian marble mortar and pestle.

italian marble mortar and pestle

Pesto ingredients for 4 people:

  • 2 bunches of basil PDO
  • 30 g pine nuts from Pisa
  • 40 g grated 24 month-aged Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 10 g of grated Sardinian cheese
  • 2 cloves of Vessalico garlic (from Imperia)
  • 5 grains of sea salt
  • 60-80 cc. of “Riviera Ligure” extra virgin olive oil PDO

How to make pesto sauce:

Making pesto at home? Follow the recipe for home-made pesto! Wash the basil leaves in cold water, dry without wrinkling them. Crush the garlic in the marble mortar and reduce it to a pulp, add the pine nuts and continue to crush, reducing it to a homogeneous paste, remove from the mortar. Fill the marble mortar with the basil leaves, add the 5 grains of salt. Crush and swirl for a long time until a homogeneous mixture is obtained. Add the pine nuts already crushed and always by twirling insert the cheeses. Incorporate the poured extra virgin olive oil until a medium density pesto sauce is formed.

But can you make pesto without garlic? To see the shelves of supermarkets you should answer yes, but speaking of the original recipe for pesto absolutely no! Just look at the procedure to make pesto genovese that involves, as the first fundamental step, to pound the garlic so that the marble mortar immediately smells of that unmistakable flavour. So you can advise those who do not like the garlic very much to reduce the quantities, but not to eliminate it in order not to distort the recipe for pesto, which otherwise becomes a basil sauce, not a pesto genovese!

How to store pesto? How long does pesto last? The pesto genovese must be kept in the fridge and once made, or the pesto jars are opened, it must be consumed in 5-6 days, always keeping it in the fridge, well covered with extra virgin olive oil and with the cap tightly closed. Can you freeze pesto? Since the preservation method is cold, freezing green pesto is possible without losing its freshness; the only warning in this case is to put the fresh pesto genovese in the freezer without extra virgin olive oil, to be added once thawed. But frozen pesto can also be used at the last minute, by adding a little cooking water from the pasta to the frozen pesto: the water will thaw the pesto genovese and you will finally add Ligurian olive oil.

Yes, but… how to use pesto? Pesto genovese is generally used as a sauce for pasta. We can choose different types of pasta, but in the sign of tradition. Pesto genovese is mostly used with trofie, a type of pasta made from flour and water with an elongated and thin shape. The trofie recipe is originally from Sori, a municipality situated a few kilometres from Genoa which in 2019 obtained the De.Co trademark as a shape of pasta closely linked to the territory and to the local community. There is also a type of trofie mixed with chestnut flour which takes the name of “bastard” trofie, a little-know trofie pasta recipe.

trofie pasta recipe

But the local tradition also wants pesto paired with potato gnocchi or trenette. In this case, the version made with a certain amount of bran flour deserves a mention: thanks to its roughness and particular flavour, it lends itself optimally to be seasoned with pesto genovese especially if accompanied by potatoes and green beans.

But there are many other traditional Ligurian pasta types that are used in combination with green pesto. Like “mandilli de saea”, or silk handkerchiefs, very thin sheets of fresh pasta that are often made in ancient trattorias in Genoa (and this is the only correct version of lasagna because it is cold seasoned only with pesto sauce). Most likely the least known, especially for those who are not from Liguria, are the croxetti, a type of pasta made of water, wheat flour and salt; there are two types of croxetti: those of the Polcevera valley, with a characteristic small 8 shape and those printed (corzétti stanpæ or corzetti del Levante). They are called “printed” because the decoration of these small medallion-shaped pasta circles is obtained by means of a wooden mould that decorates the pasta in order to “prepare” it to better accommodate the dressing. And in some craft shops in the historic centre there are still those who manufacture these moulds.

Finally, testaroli, an ancient pasta originating in the Lunigiana area (between La Spezia and Massa). It takes its name from the container where this pasta is prepared, the “testo”, that is a large round pan. They are made with water, flour (in ancient times spelt) and salt and are prepared by mixing the ingredients in a fluid wood-fired batter for a few minutes to form a kind of crêpe of a few millimetres thickness, which is then cut into pieces in an irregular shape.

Wine pairing with Pesto and where to buy pesto sauce

What goes good with pesto? Pesto genovese is a cold sauce born as a pasta sauce, but of course your imagination can indulge in the combination with just one trick: never heat it! So no to lasagna, no to pizza (if the pesto is cooked), no to creaming the pasta in a pan. However, the pesto genovese can be used leaving room for inspiration: for example, it is typical in Genoa to find it added at the last moment to the minestrone, but also on the croutons as an aperitif. And then try it on the caprese salad (on tomato and mozzarella it is excellent!), as a lovely accompaniment to boiled meat instead of the Piedmontese green sauce, alongside fish carpaccio…

As far as wine pairing with pesto is concerned, given the marked herbaceous notes of pesto genovese, it is advisable to pair it with young white wines, medium bodied, rich in aromas, herbaceous and savoury. These are the characteristics of Ligurian white wines, Vermentino and Pigato above all, but wanting to come out of Liguria, Sauvignon or French Sancerre white wine also pair well with pesto genovese. Then of course it depends on what you season the pesto with: the sweet note of pasta suggests the described wine pairing, but if you use it with fish and meat, obviously the recommended food and wine pairing may change.

wine pairing with pesto

Where can you buy pesto sauce? In Genoa, pesto is found everywhere: there are many shops that also offer street food menu ideas, you can buy it in delicatessen, in fresh pasta shops, in some bakeries and there are many good ones, so it would be really impossible to make purchase suggestions. The only one I must mention is Roberto Panizza: he is the owner of “Pesto Rossi 1947” and “Il Genovese” restaurant, as well as the President of the Palatifini Cultural Association that created the World Championship for Genoese Pesto Made with a Mortar (a competition I mentioned in the opening). It takes place every two years and in the last edition, in 2018, it saw 100 competitors in Genoa (50 from Liguria, 25 from the rest of Italy and 25 from abroad) and 30 Italian and foreign judges, including journalists, food experts, restaurateurs and tasters. The final of the eighth edition of the World Championship for Genoese Pesto Made with a Mortar should have been held in these days but it was postponed due to the Coronavirus infection. It will take place on September 26th, while the day of September 28th will be full of events and initiatives starting from the “Pesto Party” at Palazzo Ducale: the event will celebrate the product symbol of Genoa and Liguria through music, films, cooking courses for young and old and other events.

So in a few months you can plan a nice weekend in Genoa to attend the championship and taste the traditional pesto recipe, but now, in respect for the #stayathome, you can try to how to make pesto at home. And if you don’t have an Italian marble mortar and pestle (notwithstanding the period 😊), you can also use a mixer, taking care to put it in the freezer before using it as the blades must be well cold in order not to blacken the basil.

Happy pesto genovese everyone!


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Risotto with spring edible flowers Fri, 20 Mar 2020 08:02:42 +0000 Read more]]> Let’s try today risotto with edible flowers, perfect for spring!

Our lawns and gardens begin to fill with spring flowers. In compliance with the appeal of doctors and institutions not to leave home (the motto must always be #iorestoacasa), with the Italian website dedicated to risotto and its recipes,, let’s see which edible flowers can be used for this delicious dish. For those lucky enough to have a flower garden, this is an idea to colour their spring recipes.

What flowers are edible?

Edible flowers in the past were mainly used for sweets and cakes. Today the interest in this colourful ingredient is shifting more and more towards savoury recipes, especially towards risotto. Well, having said that, which is the edible flower list?

A classic is, for example, the risotto with primroses that are widespread in this season, both in jars and spontaneous. They are, among other things, edible plants that are simple to manage and require little maintenance.

Among the most common edible flowers we find for example the yarrow, the orange and the borage. But it is not difficult to get calendula, chamomile, wisteria flowers and, later in the seasons, chrysanthemum.

Very popular in our meadows are also dandelion, daisy, violet and poppy. In our gardens or on the balconies it is easy to find jasmine, geranium, lavender (the recipe for lavender risotto is very famous!), magnolia, tulip and rose. Among the edible flowers we also find dahlia, carnation, sunflower, iris, locust and elderberry.

Risotto with edible flowers

risotto with edible flowers

A simple and quick recipe is that of borage risotto: it is based on the use of a spontaneous plant known for its antioxidant properties. Both borage leaves and borage flowers are used in the recipe. The pairing can be more sophisticated, with the addition of prosecco and goat cheese, or more tasty with sausage or gorgonzola cheese.

Today it can be done with frozen blueberries or greenhouse blueberries, but in early summer the risotto with blueberry and rose petals will certainly be a delicious dish. Rose petals should only be inserted while creaming the risotto, so that they release the floral notes at the last moment and soften.

In a few weeks, usually around May, wisteria will bloom. Edible wisteria flowers can be used in risotto with fontina, thyme and wisteria flowers, a delicate recipe that combines ingredients with a fresh and aromatic flavour. Also in this case, the flowers must be inserted fresh as a final decoration and thus contribute to a spring explosion of flavours in the risotto.

Did you like the article on these particular risotto recipes? Book now your food and wine experience in Piedmont with the Expert Giulia and find out more about the fascinating world of Italian rice!


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Rose syrup: history, recipe and preparation Fri, 13 Mar 2020 16:14:00 +0000 Read more]]> From the Genoese tradition a fragrant elixir that is good for the “heart”, but also for the lungs

It is not known why the tradition of working with rose petals developed in Genoa, where fresh rose petals are used not only to make rose syrup, but also sugared almonds and rose jam. The fact is that already a text dating back to 1683 written by Gian Domenico Peri, “The shopkeeper“, mentiones “the jams and canned sugar that are processed in Genoa as the most excellent that can be found anywhere else in the world“.

Today, after more than 300 years, the rose petal syrup is an excellence that is still produced by hand by a few producers in the city, two above all: the “Antica Confetteria Pietro Romanengo” (in Genoa since 1780) and the “Antica Farmacia Sant’Anna dei Frati Carmelitani Scalzi” (which has been producing rose syrup since 1700).

But in the Scrivia Valley behind Genoa, some producers are breathing new life into the production: the rose syrup is today a top product for them, given the strong demand especially from abroad, in particular from England and Japan.

Does the Scrivia Valley fascinate you? Discover all Italia Delight experiences!

What is rose syrup?

Preserved in small and transparent bottles so as not to hide that pale pink colour so romantic and inviting, rose syrup is today a niche product and a Slow Food Presidium, obtained in 2004 to preserve the artisanal production from Genoa and to differentiate it from industrial products.

rose syrup

To celebrate roses syrup, every year on the second weekend of June, the Rose Festival is held in Busalla: the event is organized by the association “The Roses of the Scrivia Valley“, created almost 20 years ago by Maria Giulia Scolaro who also produces the rose syrup in her organic farm in the heart of the park of Monte Antola.

Properties of rose syrup

Without forgetting the home-made production of rose syrup, especially from the Ligurian hinterland, which is still a “ritual” handed down from mother to daughter, we must consider that rose syrup is famous not only for the refreshing characteristics of this fragrant syrup, but also for its healing properties: it is an excellent anti-inflammatory for the mouth and upper respiratory tract and has diuretic effects.

And in fact the well-known French herbalist Maurice Mességué, in his “My herbarium” published in 1983 writes: “The infusion and rose syrup are fortifying tonics for the lungs and perform a tonic action on the whole organism: I recommend infusion and syrup, in particular, to the inhabitants of the metropolis who are worried about the conditions of their respiratory system, to the convalescents and the elderly. Fragile children will receive valuable help in overcoming certain growth crises”.

Symbol of love since time immemorial, not many know that the rose is a plant with many properties: the rose petals contain vitamin C, carotene, B vitamins, vitamin K, calcium, potassium, copper and iodine.

How to make rose syrup

But how to obtain rose syrup, this fragrant and beneficial elixir? First of all by selecting the rose petals very well: the roses must be of Damascena, Rugosa, Gallica or Muscosa Centifolia varieties (also called “Chapeau de Napoléon”). They are those flowers with a broad and rich corolla, dominating the floral compositions in the Victorian paintings.

rose syrup uses

The rose petals must be pink and not red – because, in this case, they tend to be more bitter – and must be collected from mid-May to early June, when the corolla is well open. Follow these suggestions while buying rose petals…

Let’s find out the rose syrup recipe

The rose petals must be separated manually and, once divided, they must be left “at rest” for one night. The recipe taken from Sergio Rossi’s book “Rose Syrup” is simple, you need: 1 litre of water, 1 kg of sugar (which can be brought up to 1.3 kg to taste), 300 to 500 g of fresh rose petals, the juice of one lemon.

Rose syrup recipe: the procedure

– Bring the water to a boil, remove it from the heat and pour it on the rose petals. Stir the infusion vigorously until all the petals are well incorporated into the liquid. Add the lemon juice. Leave to rest for 24 hours at room temperature.

– After the infusion time, collect the liquid in a container and squeeze the rose petals with your hands until a compact and dry mass is obtained.

– Filter the infusion with a gauze or a sieve. Put the infusion back on the heat. Add the sugar, making it dissolve completely. Bring to the boil for a few minutes.
Bottle the still hot rose syrup (to avoid the formation of mould) in dry and hermetically sealed containers.

roses syrup

Rose syrup uses

Rose syrup can replace sugar in tea, herbal teas, infusions, while in summer, added to water and ice, it is an excellent refreshing.

It also finds space in various sweet preparations by adding it to yogurt, ice cream, slush, panna cotta, fruit salad and crepes. In the most refined and modern cuisine, there are also recipes with rose syrup to make savoury preparations, for example it is used as a sauce to pair with meats, or with fresh pasta.

And in fact, during the Rose Festival in Busalla, some farms in the area offer a menu based entirely on roses, from appetizers to desserts.

The “Antica Confetteria Romanengo” is very active in promoting rose syrup: in the shop, you can buy rose syrup and they also offer guided tours during the syrup preparation period as well as illustrative videos that can be found online. On the website, they have got the recipe for a cocktail, the Pink Prosecco: “Just pour a spoonful of rose syrup and mix with a good Prosecco, decorating the flutes with freshly picked petals“.

But rose syrup is definitively a perfect syrup for cockails: it can be combined and replaced in many mixed and shaken preparations.

May approaching, ready to plan a nice weekend between Genoa and the Scrivia Valley? Enjoy a unique food experience: make rose syrup directly at the farm with our expert Barbara…


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Tuscany Food and Wine Tours: 5 top experiences in 2020 Fri, 21 Feb 2020 14:39:23 +0000 Read more]]> Some ideas for your food and wine tours in Tuscany…


Tuscany is one of the most famous regions in Italy for food and wine. There are two keywords about Tuscany food: simplicity and taste. Olive oil, truffle, wine and other culinary delights are the basis of food and wine tourism. Therefore, those who visit Tuscany will be fascinated not only by the rich artistic and cultural heritage that this region has got, but also by the goodness of Tuscan cuisine.
In this article, we will focus our magnifying glass on some of the unmissable Tuscan specialities, which travellers can enjoy during the food and wine tours in Tuscany that best suit their taste.

White truffle hunting and wine tasting experience

In the province of Pisa, there is one of the most beautiful medieval villages in Italy. In the heart of the Via Francigena route, a favourite destination for many travellers is San Miniato: the home of the precious white truffle. Its hills are the ideal habitat for the growth of the so-called “Tuber Magnatum Pico”. In this charming village, tourists will have the opportunity to enjoy an authentic food and wine experience, that is, the truffle hunt with the dog. This activity will take place in a biodynamic wine estate, which is also a historic house. The truffle hunting experience requires comfortable clothing and ends with a lunch at the historic villa, as well as with a visit to the wine cellar for the tasting.
Travellers will be able to savour excellent wines and, above all, will have the opportunity to discover their secrets, by joining a lesson in the wine cellar on biodynamics and natural winemaking. The tour will begin with a walk through the vineyards and will end in the cellar, immersed in the aromas of wine.

San Miniato Tour Enogastronomico in Toscana

The Maremma

Cinta Senese cured meats are a renowned traditional Tuscan food. Already bred by the Etruscans, the peculiarity of this breed consists in the dark coat and the typical white band that surrounds the body of the pig. These animals are bred in the wild and fed on cereals, such as corn and barley, and on a lot of grass. The processing takes place in an artisanal way. During food and wine tours in Tuscany, an experience not to be missed is certainly the visit to a farm in Maremma where Cinta Senese pigs are raised. Travellers can spend a whole day at the farm, following the techniques that they use for the production of their cured meats. The experience includes a visit to the farm and the lunch, with tastings of these tasty cured meats.

Tuscany food tours

Tuscan extra virgin olive oil

Olive oil is another traditional Tuscany food. Just think that Tuscan extra virgin olive oil is famous throughout Italy and worldwide. On the other hand, there is not only one type of olive oil, but there are several, including the Tuscan extra virgin olive oil PGI and the Seggiano PDO. Immersed in the Tuscan hills, travellers will have the opportunity to stroll among olive groves and vineyards and take part in a tasting of Tuscan extra virgin olive oil PGI. During the food tour, an expert will illustrate the different production phases, with an eye to the final transformation that takes place at the olive oil mill.

Alternatively, travellers can also visit the village of Seggiano and taste the local olive variety from which the famous Seggiano extra virgin olive oil PDO is made. This olive variety was already cultivated by Benedictine monks in 1300 BC. In addition to the farm visit, the food tour will continue with a visit to the Seggiano Olive Oil Museum and a lunch based on local food delicacies paired with this Tuscan gold. What better way to get in touch with nature and with the food and wine history of a place than to walk among the olive trees and visit farms?

Wines of Tuscany

Tuscany is also known for its fine wines. In fact, during food and wine tours you cannot miss a winery tour to discover all the secrets to making a quality wine such as Chianti up close. On Valdichiana hills, there is a magnificent village with vineyards, olive groves and a historic villa. There travellers, accompanied during the visit by a sommelier, will be guided on the Chianti wine tour. You can walk along the eight hectares of vineyards and listen to the characteristics of fine grape vines, such as Sangiovese, Merlot and many others. The tour will then continue in the wine cellars and will end, inside the eighteenth-century residence, with the tasting of Tuscan specialities, paired with a good glass of Tuscany wine.
Another unmissable experience, along the food and wine tour, is the wine harvest in Tuscany. This activity offers travellers the opportunity to be in contact with nature and the vineyards. In fact, the clothing required is very comfortable because the experience involves participating in the grape harvest, and then ending up with a banquet to celebrate the fruit of the wine harvest.

Cooking classes in Tuscany

Visiting a region is synonymous with curiosity. A curiosity that is expressed in wanting to learn about the local traditions. In this case, food and wine tourism may suggest to take part in cooking classes.

An interesting cooking class is the one on hand rolled pasta. It takes place at a farmhouse, where a Tuscan cook will give a cooking lesson. After a first moment in which she will explain the raw materials, the participant will learn how to make the pasta dough according to the Tuscan tradition, how to prepare potato gnocchi and pici. The Italian cooking class, which includes a two-night stay at the farm, will end with a lunch that will allow you to taste the fruits of your Italian cooking lessons.

For vegetarian food lovers, however, the cooking classes in Tuscany that will make you discover the flavours of the Maremma are highly recommended. During the cooking course, participants will make chickpea soups, croutons with vegetables, black cabbage and beans, as well as the must of Tuscan cuisine: panzanella and acquacotta. The cooking lessons will end with a lunch, where these dishes will be the protagonists. A food and wine weekend not to be missed…

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Rice and beans? Discover Paniscia and Panissa Mon, 03 Feb 2020 16:42:47 +0000 Read more]]> Time for rice and beans! Let’s discover two traditional Piedmont recipes


The eternal disputes about Paniscia from Novara and Panissa from Vercelli involves two protagonists of the winter tables in Upper Piedmont: rice and beans., the Italian website dedicated to risotto, with almost 400 recipes that you can easily browse by ingredient, tells us more about these traditional dishes and their variations (soups and bean salad).

Bean Risotto

Beans (and legumes in general) are considered very caloric ingredients. In fact, their high nutritional value consists mainly of proteins and carbohydrates, which combine perfectly with those of cereals, creating one-dish meals with a precious nutritional value.

Bean risotto, for example, if prepared without adding fat, provides all the nutrients that would be taken from meat and eggs, but without cholesterol! To help this aspect is the lecithin of legumes, which promotes the emulsion of fats, preventing them from accumulating in the blood and configuring these ingredients as allies to “lower your cholesterol”…

How do you cook it? First, it is recommended to use dried beans. There are black-eyed beans, which are the ones that contain the most fibres, the common ones (Borlotti, Spanish, Corona and Cannellini beans) and the black ones.

rice and beans: ingredients to make risotto

As they are rich in fibre, it is necessary to leave them to soak for at least half a day, before boiling them for at least an hour: it is an important step, since cooking times are different for beans and rice! Add the boiled beans to the rice, proceed normally by adding gradually the broth until the end of cooking.

Canned beans can also be used: however, it is necessary to wash them very well before using them or reduce the amount of salt during the preparation of risotto, since canned beans have a greater amount of sodium.

Paniscia VS Panissa

They have the same origin and their name is clear about that: before being made with rice, they were probably prepared with “panicum”, the Latin translation of millet. Then rice cultivation changed these recipes, leading to the two “twin” dishes from Novara and Vercelli.

In Novara, Paniscia has a base of vegetable broth (especially cabbage and carrots) to which are added rice, beans and crumbled duja salami.

rice: the paniscia from Novara

In Vercelli, Panissa has a base of animal fat broth (it was made with the waste from pig slaughter) to which are added rice, Saluggia or Villata beans, crumbled duja salami and red wine.

rice: panissa from Vercelli

There is no more or less good: those who visit these territories are encouraged to taste them both! From these dishes come many variations in broth, from soups to bean salad, typical of the Carnival season (for example, the Panizza from Valsesia).

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Pistachio? Let’s discover the green gold of Bronte Thu, 23 Jan 2020 07:42:25 +0000 Read more]]> Pistachio, a delight for the palate to be enjoyed on your next trip to Sicily!

Pistachio, Bronte’s green gold, represents a great economic resource for Sicily. Much of the credit goes to the locals, who have been able to discover the real value of the kernels, enhancing their flavour and use. The Bronte Pistachio (“Pistacchio Verde di Bronte” PDO) is famous all over the world and manages to move a huge market with a capacity of 35/40 million euros per year. The producers from the town near Catania are about 5,000 and hold about one hectare of land each.

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A great economy, therefore, revolves around this small kernel with particular organoleptic properties, that cannot be found in other nuts of the same type around the world. The pistachio nut, in fact, has found its ideal microclimate in this corner of Sicily, giving the best of itself. The producers take care of the cultivation, harvesting and drying for the elimination of the husk. Once this phase is over, they sell the nuts to the transformation companies: these firms use the raw material to create pistachio-based products, which are highly requested especially in the confectionery industry. Let’s discover the green gold of Bronte and its main characteristics.

pistachio of Bronte: view on the pistachio trees

The Pistachio Plant

The Bronte Pistachio plant is a variety called “Pistacia vera”. The nuts have been known since prehistoric times and have always found wide use. Although it has been cultivated for millennia throughout the Mediterranean basin, the word “pistachio” appears for the first time in the Old Testament. Subsequently, it has also been mentioned in the Book of Genesis. In local dialect, the plant is called “frastucara“, while the kernel is called “frastuco“. In fact, it seems that these terms are of Arabic origin, “fristach” and “frastuch“, from which the name pistachio was derived, since in the Arabic language they do not use the letter p. However, it was the Arabs who encouraged the cultivation of pistachio after having torn Sicily from the Byzantines. They understood that the island was the most suitable land for the growing of “Pistacia Vera”, thus increasing its plants along the slopes of Mount Etna.

The highly mineral soil and the strong temperature variations are a cure-all for the “Pistacia Vera”. The Pistachio plant is very long-lived: it can go up to 300 years. The stem can grow up to 10-12 metres, even if it stops much earlier. The variety bears fruit in a two-year cycle: years of excessive charge alternate with years of scarcity of fruit. Sicilian growers prefer to eliminate the flowers in the scarce years to increase their yield the following year. In this way, it is possible to obtain a unique product with particular characteristics. Flowering begins in April, while the fruit is harvested around September-October. Pistachio looks like a drupe covered with husk where, inside a woody shell, there is the kernel. Bronte Pistachio is grown in the municipalities of Bronte, Adrano and Biancavilla, according to the PDO Regulation, at an altitude between 400 and 600 metres.

bronte pistachio: the harvesting

Recognition of the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin)

The recognition of “Pistacchio Verde di Bronte” PDO was obtained in 2009. On June 9 of that year, in fact, the European Union published the Regulation where you can find:

  • the name: “Pistacchio Verde di Bronte”
  • the description: the product must correspond to the requirements of intense green colour and strong aromatic taste
  • the production area is Bronte, Adrano and Biancavilla
  • the origin must be monitored and certified
  • the production land must be of volcanic origin
  • the practice of precise cultivation methods, since the tree is very resistant and adapts well to volcanic soils, but fears the spring frost.

As you can understand, the protection of Bronte’s green gold is clear and precise. The uniqueness of this product is obtained by combining typical elements of the territory of origin. The PDO Regulation guarantees the origin and authenticity of Bronte Pistachio.

Organopleptic Properties of Bronte Pistachio nuts

The Bronte Pistachio, therefore, grows in a complex territory characterised by lands with high mineral intake. The volcanic soils along the slopes of Mount Etna give to the fruit particular nutrients that determine its unique taste and nutritional value.

The minerals contained in the pistachio are iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, together with an important group of vitamins B, E and C. Pistachio can be eaten in any diet. It has a high caloric intake, so it is recommended for sportmen. Its regular consumption allows to keep cholesterol levels and cardiovascular diseases under control. This nut also contains antioxidants that keep the skin young.

Holidays to discover Bronte Pistachio, Sicily’s Emerald Green gem

Bronte Pistachio, besides being eaten raw, is used to make many Sicilian dishes.

A trip to Sicily is a great opportunity to get to know Bronte’s green gold up close.

There is an important tourist circuit around the world of Bronte Pistachio. Tourists can get to know the farmers and their work. The local farms open their doors to show the various stages of pistachio processing. The icing on the cake is the opportunity to join a cooking class in Bronte to learn how to enhance this speciality.

At the end of September, during the harvest, the Pistachio Festival is held in Bronte. It is a moment of joyful happiness for both locals and visitors. Delicious sweets such as Sicilian cannoli with pistachio grains, pistachio cake, ice cream, granita and much more will brighten your visit to Sicily.


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Matera, City of Stone and home of pistachio Tue, 14 Jan 2020 15:23:56 +0000 Read more]]> Matera: an open-air show!


Matera is an amazing city in Southern Italy that can be called an “open-air show”. Its particular shape makes it an enchanted scenery, so much that it is compared to a beautiful nativity scene. The urban centre, in fact, developed around natural caves carved into the rock.

Nothing can be more intriguing for a tourist than visiting this charming place, almost like a movie set.

Indeed, it was the backdrop for scenes in several films. Mel Gibson chose Matera to shoot scenes from the film movie “The Passion”. Pier Paolo Pasolini considered it the ideal set for “The Gospel according to Matthew”. Matera has an ancient and modern character at the same time to be considered a location between the present and the past. Cary Fukunaga, in fact, shot some scenes of the latest 007 film, “No time to die“, to be released in the spring of 2020.

Matera has a unique architecture that cannot be reproduced in any way.

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Matera, Italy

Today as in the past, refuge for men

Matera has always been an ideal refuge for humans. Numerous testimonies tell that the first human settlements date back to the Paleolithic Age. Objects from that period suggest groups of hunters who found refuge in the caves scattered along the ravines. In the Neolithic Age, these temporary settlements became stable dwellings of primitive men.

Matera, Italy

Over the following centuries, Matera was the bone of contention between different peoples who wanted to submit it to their dominion. Fierce battles took place between the Lombards, Saracens and Byzantines. At the same time, communities of Benedictine and Byzantine monks built rupestrian churches along the banks of the ravines.

Under Norman domination, the city experienced a period of peace when it began to take shape and create its identity. Although the Sassi have been abandoned for a period, due to agrarian reform laws, Matera has risen more beautiful than before taking its great revenge. In 1993 it was declared a UNESCO “World Heritage Site“. In 2014, the city was elected European Capital of Culture 2019.

The “Sassi di Matera”

The “Gravina di Matera” is a deep gorge that divides the territory into two parts. The Sassi were excavated just behind it.

The Sasso Barisano looks north-west and is the beating heart of the old city with palaces, tunnels, portals and ancient buildings. The Sasso Caveoso, on the other hand, has the shape of an amphitheatre and covers a wider area. Man has been able to create water control systems with zero environmental impact, essential for the life and needs of the community. The friability of the rock was exploited to create slopes that flowed into rainwater cisterns. For a long time, they have been a real asset for the local community that has been able to adapt to nature.

Matera, the city of stones

All this up to the mid-twentieth century, when the agrarian reform ordered the evacuation of the Sassi for reasons of hygiene and sanitary degradation. They were even identified as “National Shame”. For decades, this natural artistic heritage has been abandoned, in the hope of a proper recovery.

But Matera, always a free spirit motivated by a strong link with the territory, has managed to obtain a recovery of the Sassi since 1986.

Matera: cultural tourism and much more…

Your journey to Matera is a timeless and exceptional adventure. Each step is a continuous discovery of all the opportunities offered by this ancient, but always contemporary place. Matera’s long tradition is made up of rites, festivals, folklore, gastronomy and entertainment that make up the convivial side of the city. Matera has a lot to offer.

After learning more about the city and its history, you could visit the wonderful villages close to the Lucanian Dolomites. These peaks, to which imaginative names have been attributed, interrupt the sweet Lucanian landscape by standing proud.

Castelmezzano village in Apennines Dolomiti Lucane. Basilicata,

If you are a sports lover and thrill seeker, you should experience the “Angel Flight“. It is about letting go suspended on a rope 1000 metres high, from Castelmezzano to Pietrapertosa.

Alternatively, you could stay on the mainland and join the guided itineraries designed to discover these enchanting places. One of these is the “Path of the Seven Stones” that connects the two villages,  crossing a Roman bridge. Castelmezzano is one of the “100 most beautiful villages in Italy“. This is a beautiful corner of Basilicata, where the rock is the protagonist as in Matera. Pietrapertosa, on the other hand, preserves an ancient Saracen quarter and the remains of the castle.

Discover the charm of the Lucanian Dolomites!

Matera: the home of the pistachio

The wonders of Matera do not end here. Matera, besides stimulating your artistic, historical and cultural curiosity, will also manage to tempt your taste buds.

You can’t leave Basilicata without learning more about the food and wine from Matera, home of the pistachio. In Stigliano, wonderful pistachio trees are grown and give rise to as many wonderful fruits.

Legend has it that the pistachio has supernatural powers and is able to give those who eat it a good mood and a new-found joie de vivre.

Before leaving, don’t miss the chance to taste the traditional pistachio-based products. Pistachio is used for the production of spread, grain, pesto, paste and flour. If you want a real delight to the palate, don’t forget to taste it naturally. Your body will benefit above all from this food intake. Its mineral, vitamin, carbohydrate and fibre content will be a valuable asset.

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Ivrea: things to do and see Thu, 02 Jan 2020 09:02:41 +0000 Read more]]> Ivrea: where it is located, its origins, the ancient and the industrial city


Ivrea is a town located at the foot of the Alps in Piedmont. It has been considered as the capital of Canavese, a territorial area north of Turin, since ancient times. Ivrea is a town rich in history. In fact, it is known with certainty that it was founded by the Romans in 100 BC, based on an ancient pre-existing settlement.

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A very important feature of Ivrea, which attracts tourists from all over the world, is its position on the Via Francigena.

In the past, the Via Francigena had a very important and strategic value. Arriving from the north, from the Aosta Valley, people stopped in Ivrea and then continued on to the vault of Rome. This route was indeed a prolific area of exchange and communication. Not only merchants but also politicians, entire armies as well as learned and rich men of culture passed through it. The Via Frangigena Morenico-Canavesana, this is the full name, extends for about 50/55 kilometres. The stretch of the Via Francigena near Ivrea is highly suggestive: it is the stretch of the Morainic Amphitheatre. This arose from the Balteo Glacier, once it retired due to the change in climatic conditions.

The original name of Ivrea was Eporedia, meaning “horse-drawn equestrian cart”. Currently the city is distinct in two main areas: the ancient city and the industrial city.

Ivrea: the ancient city

As for the former, it is advisable to visit the ancient city on foot as it is rich in cultural and historical attractions.

The ancient city of Ivrea contains medieval and Roman remains such as the Ivrea Castle, the Cathedral of S. Maria Assunta, the old bridge and the “borghetto”, a small urban area located beyond the “Ponte Vecchio” bridge.

As for the industrial city, it should be mentioned that Ivrea has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city offers an itinerary linked to the Olivetti heritage concerning architectural and urban planning. In July 2018, UNESCO recognised Ivrea’s industrial city of the early 20th century as a World Heritage Site. The Olivetti factory was opened in 1908 and was immediately not only a simple company but a real industrial city within the city of Ivrea. Next to the working spaces, there were the areas to be lived together with the community and the residences for the employees.

Ivrea: the naturalistic itinerary and the Balmetti in Borgofranco

Ivrea offers its visitors a beautiful and fascinating nature trail which includes five lakes. The ring of the five lakes is one of the most beautiful areas in the region and offers travellers the opportunity to visit it on foot or by bicycle.

Lake Sirio is the largest, the most famous and the most suitable for swimming. The Nero lake is highly suggestive, wild and accessible through a circular path. Pistono lake is completely surrounded by nature among chestnut trees and vineyards. The Campagna lake allows you to enjoy a magnificent view of the Canavese area. Finally, there is the Maresco di Bienca ring, where you can observe the ruins of an ancient Roman aqueduct.

Impossible then not to name Ivrea without referring to the Balmetti in Borgofranco.

redwine Ivrea

These are a natural phenomenon that has come about over the centuries. The word “balmetti” means caves but in reality they are architectures, natural cavities arisen spontaneously among the rocks. These cellars rise attached to the rocks and they are about 300. They have been and still are particularly important for the refinement and aging of wine. In fact, the temperature is always constant around 7° C, whatever the season. The Balmetti in Borgofranco are certainly a territorial treasure of the Canavese-rivarolo area and one of the best places to visit near Ivrea.

Discover the charm of Balmetti in Borgofranco!

The carnival of Ivrea and the food & wine in the Canavese area

The Carnival of Ivrea is part of a very important historical tradition and is an Italian event known all over the world. Dating back to the medieval period, it develops around legends affecting characters such as the miller, the baron, the general, the officers on horseback and many others.

Certainly the carnival of Ivrea is also known for the “Battle of the Oranges”: tourists and common people flock to the streets wearing a red hat (Phrygian cap) and fight with orange blows.

The Carnival of Ivrea

Ivrea is also known for the production of fine wines such as the Erbaluce di Caluso, Carema DOC and Canavese DOC. The first is a dry white wine made from the Erbaluce grape variety. The Carema DOC comes from Nebbiolo grapes (minimum 85%) and gives origin to a red wine from Ivrea with an important refinement. Canavese DOC can be a white wine made from Erbaluce grapes, rosé or red wine from Nebbiolo, Neretto or Freisa grapes in different percentages.

As far as for gastronomy, the miasse are very famous in this area. They are crunchy rectangles cooked with maize flour, eggs, oil and water to be accompanied with a slightly spicy cheese (the so-called “Salignun”).

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