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Typical Products of Lucca's area and Garfagnana

EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Olive-growing has characterised, since ancient times, the province of Lucca: around the mid-15th century olive oil was defined as "necessary for man's well-being" and a 19th century treatise about oil production considers that "the most famous oils for their finesse are those of Lucca which are very well-known abroad.
Alongside these are almost all the oils found in the region of Tuscany".
This deep-rooted tradition shows how valuable and typical olive-growing is, now more than ever, in the continuing quest to preserve an irreplaceable heritage.
The outstanding characteristics of Lucca's olive oil have raised it to the level of a top food element, not only for its organoleptic qualities but also for the nutritional properties which contribute to a complete and healthy diet.
The term Olio extravergine "LUCCA" today means an olive oil produced in the geographic district of the province of Lucca, defined by the perimeter indicated in the map of the label "Denominazione Geografica Protetta" (Protected Geographical Indication).
This oil made unique by its perfect taste (yielded by perfectly ripe olives, and light bitter notes, due to the intensity of the fruity taste revealed), colour (golden yellow with green tints) and overall bouquet, so much so that many tasters who still come to the various production areas of Italy to buy oil for their companies, take home a sample of extra virgin oil from the "LUCCA" to use as a term of comparison.
Up to 90% of the olives used are from the FRANTOIO variety and up to 20% the LECCINO variety with lower percentages of PENDOLINO and MAURINO and other local minor varieties.
The importance of the olive oil "LUCCA" is finally confirmed by the European Community recognition of the note "Denominazione di Origine Protetta" (Protected Geographical Indication), published on the "Official Gazette of the European Community, 2004 October 22th.
This oil is so famous throughout the world that the Concise Oxford Dictionary defines it as "LUCCA OIL: superior quality of olive oil", thus giving it the privileged position - unique among all the oils of the world - on a par with "COGNAC" or "CHAMPAGNE".

*Text extracts from
"COME SI ASSAGGIA L'OLIO DI OLIVA"
by P.Micheletti - Maria Pacini Fazzi Editore

SPELT
Spelt is an ancient cereal, a favourite dish of the Romans, who used it to nourish their legions. Although it has now disappeared almost everywhere it survives in Garfagnana where it is still polished in old stone mills and regularly used to make an excellent soup and inimitable spicy cakes. Thanks to the recent discovery in natural, vegetarian and vegan cooking, spelt is becoming increasingly well-known outside its home region. Spelt had various uses in traditional cooking, although the best known and most interesting is as a first course. Garfagnana spelt has particular qualities as a first course which cannot be found in spelt from other areas.
Spelt soup, a typical Garfagnana dish, is not only delicious but especially beneficial for the human body. As with all genuine products, the fruit of a close relationship between man and the land, the origin of spelt had to be guaranteed and protected.
The Garfagnana Mountain Community obtained first the IGP qualification and later forming at its centre a control and promotional committee.
This is part of a wider strategy aimed at promoting typical products and protecting the consumer.

(cured by APT Lucca)

NECCIO FLOUR
Commonly knows as "chestnut flour", originates in Garfagnana and it is used by the population as wheat flour is used in the plain areas.
The chestnut is therefore a "bread tree" and its fruits, the chestnuts, "tree bread".
Although mainly used for polenta, there are various uses for chestnut flour. It was dissolved in a water and coke on the fire between two pieces of metal to form "necci", eaten with ricotta or cured meats.
It could also be mixed with water, walnuts, orange peel and oil and coke in the oven to make the famous "castagnaccio". Today the flour is no longer used daily but its scent and delicate taste can be experienced when you try "necci" or "castagnaccio".
The fragrant flovours come alive in the "metato" where the freshly-picked chestnuts are dried. The chestnuts remain in the "metato", traditionally beate with logs of chestnut wood, for 40 days until they assume the characteristics wich we will enjoy when they are cleaned and trasformed into Garfagnana "neccio flour" now provided of DOP label.

(cured by APT Lucca)

HONEY
Honey unlike demerara sugar or sugar beet, is easily assimilated, as it does not need refining, coming straight from the hive to the table. It is a great energy giving food and has been used for many years as a remedy for various ailments. All honey, however, is not the same. Millefiori honey comes from the Compitese hills or the Garfagnana and has exclusive characteristics, reflecting the flora of these areas. The same is true of monoflora honey from the Lucca area, chestnut is thought to help any respiratory ailments, heather honey has diuretic properties, and acacia, with a high fructose content, can be used in cases of mild diabetes, under medical supervision.

(cured by APT Lucca)

FRUITS OF THE FOREST
In the abundant glades on the slopes of the Lucchese Apennines, especially in Garfagnana, bilberry picking is widespread due to the good soil. There are, however, many other typical fruits of the forest, in the whole of the Valle del Serchio, strawberries, raspberries.
The cultivation of other species such as redcurrants and gooseberries has also begun and wonderful jams are produced.
Recent business initiatives have created a true market in the Lucca area for fruits of the forest, whether they be fresh, such as the quality strawberries, or preserved. The garfagnino mushroom alone merits a visit to the area, its smell and taste remain inimitable, whether fresh or dried, cooked following the traditional recipes of the Valle del Serchio.

(cured by APT Lucca)

CURED MEAT FROM THE GARFAGNANA
If there is one animal whose role can be considered essential to the diet and gastronomic tradition of the Garfagnana, it is without doubt the pig.
Every part of it is used and its transformation into typical, delicious cured meats, such as biroldo and bondiola, and lard, represents "a ritual" in which entire rural families have always taken part.
This has also recently received the quality trademark recognition. Another animal considered essential for nutrition and the gastronomic tradition is the pig, every last part of which is used. The preparation of the meat is still a ritual that involves the entire family. Among the traditional preserved meats, we can mention: Mondiola, a fresh salami flavoured with bay leaves, the tasty lard of the Serchio valley, flavoured with herbs, and the biroldo, il prosciutto Bazzone.

(cured by APT Lucca)

MILK AND CHEESE
From the breeding of the Garfagnana a selected milk is distributed in the whole Tuscany.The sheeps milk produced in the Valley is changed, instead into a flavoured cheese, by the breeder himself.
The local sheeps milk, because of the greasy pasteis considered a fatty cheeses, because of its consistance a hard or mighty hard cheese, because of the maturation a fresh, seasonal one. This cheese is eccellent on any point of view and able to satisfy all the most demanding palates.

(cured by APT Lucca)

ALTOPASCIO BREAD
A large loaf, usually weighing about two kilos or more, Altopascio bread is typically Tuscan. It is an excellent accompaniment for all kinds of dishes. When it is a few days old, or even when it is dry, it can still be used for the preparation of hundreds of delicious recipes. It is made from flour that has not been totally refined and, because it is unsalted, it goes extremely well with the tasty cold meats and cheeses of Tuscany. This type of bread used to be made in the home once a week, but now local bakers make it with the same simplicity, care and dedication of times gone by. In Altopascio as long ago as the Middle Ages, the bakers at the Tau Hospice had to ensure that bread was always available to feed the pilgrims as they travelled along the Francigena. It has remained the symbol of hospitality and welcome and is a centuries-old tradition that continues to this day.
The town of Altopascio is the leader of the national association "Città del Pane".

(cured by APT Lucca)

"FORMENTON" OTTO FILE
The 8-row maize (Zea Mays) of Garfagnana, locally also known as "Formentone", was once widely cultivated throughout the valley, exclusively for use as food. Later it almost completely disappeared as a result of the depopulation of the mountain areas and the abandoning of crop farming. In recent times, the rediscovery and renewed popularity of typical and ancient products has convinced certain farmers of the region, who had continued to grow it, to devote special care to its cultivation, avoiding "contamination" with other varieties offering greater yield but inferior quality. It is a herbaceous plant, growing to a height of about two metres, bearing one or two ears per stem. The ears are long and covered by many coats of leaves. The mature kernels are an orangey yellow colour, with slight, more or less intense shading, round and fairly large. This crop does not have a high yield, but boasts nutritional features which now distinguish it as an excellent maize for polenta.

(cured by APT Lucca)

BUCCELLATO
is the city's most well-known cake which can be found in the more traditional form of a ring shaped cake (ciambella) or like a small French loaf. It is made from flour, sugar, aniseed and sultanas and tastes wonderful dipped in either a
cappuccino or a glass of wine.

(cured by APT Lucca)

TOSCANO CIGAR
The rain and then the summer sun fermented Kentucky tobacco which had been left sitting in a courtyard. This "rotten" tobacco was then used to make low cost cigars, unexpectedly creating a better tasting and more pleasant cigar than traditional ones. This was the origin of the "Toscano".
It was 1818. Nowadays the tobacco manufacturer in Lucca produces the cigars according to the Toscano tradition. The cigars are produced according to a hand made tradition by personnel trained to work with the tobacco in all the manufacturing processes, representing a true artisan heritage. Today, as in the 19th century, Toscano cigars contain the taste of Tuscany.

(cured by APT Lucca)

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