The cuisine of the province of Lucca consists of simple, genuine foods prepared with imaginative originality, thanks also to a climate and territorial configuration that supply ad abundance of top-quality products.
In the Lucca plain, the olive tree gives color to the landscape and supplies an incomparable oil that is exported all over the world. Its organolectic characteristics have elevated it to being the principal nutriment in a healthy and correct diet. This oil is unique, thanks to the perfection of its taste (the yield of olives at the right point of maturation, an intense sensation of sweetness with a hint of spiciness), color (golden yellow with green reflections), and overall aroma, to the point that many tasters keep a sample of extra-virgin oil from the hills of Lucca as a term of comparison. This product is so famous throughout the world that the Oxford Dictionary defines it as “Lucca Oil: superior quality of olive oil” comparing it, unique oil in the world, to other world well known products such as cognac and champagne.
The vines also contribute to characterize the landscape and supply two types of DOC wines: “Montecarlo” and “Colline Lucchesi”. The former are wines coming from the grapes of vineyards cultivated in the Commune of Montecarlo, and partly also in those of Altopascio and Porcari. The most sought-after vines are Trebbiano Toscano, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Bianco, Vermentino, Sauvignon, Roussane and Semillon for the white wines; and Sangiovese, Lanaiolo, Ciliegiolo, Colorino and Malvasia Nera for the red wines. The DOC wines of the Lucchesi hills come from vineyards cultivated in the Communes of Lucca, Capannori and Porcari. The vines cultivated, which have a long tradition, are Sangiovese, Lanaiolo, Ciliegiolo and Merlot for the reds; and Trebbiano Toscano, Grego, Grechetto, Vermentino Bianco, Malvasia, Chardonnay and Sauvignon for the whites. In both cases, the mild climate, noon-day exposure, and presence of higher peaks that protect them from the north wind, contribute to a product that is robust and healthy, with a high sugar content and intense fragrances.
A particular itinerary was created recently, the “Strada del Vino” (wine trail), which from Lucca crosses an harmonious backdrop of verdant hills, centuries-old olive trees and rows of vines, to arrive at the best-known estates in order to taste the best products of their wine cellars.
There are many typical dishes in the Lucchese culinary tradition. The Lucca-Style Tordelli are justly famous: on a par with the “tortelli” from the Mugello, they represent a chapter in the great Italian tradition of stuffed egg-pasta. Usually a mixture of meats is used, browned and mixed with salted meats such as mortadella and sausage. Among the second courses, slow-cooked Rabbit Stew is prominent. This dish of the tradition is extremely easy to prepare, and in winter goes well with polenta. And what can we say about Eel from the Serchio river “in zimino”.
For centuries along the Serchio, eels have been used in cooking. There are many ways How to make them – from roasting, to grilling or.. “in zimino”, which in Tuscany means “cooked with herbs”. In this case, parsley and tomato are used. The abundant presence of oil also justifies the substantial mixed fried dishes, using vegetables of all sorts, together with chicken and rabbit.
The Lucchese dessert par excellence is Buccellato, a large round cake made of wheat flour, sugar, vanilla, and anise. Its name derives from “buccina”, a curved Roman military trumpet, and already appeared in a document dated 1485. A last touch is the “China Lucchese Massagli”, an elixir of quinine that Pasquale Massagli created in 1855 in the existent pharmacy of Saint Michele in Lucca.
Produced as a cure against malaria and to reduce a fever, the drink is slightly alcoholic and is excellent both as an aperitif and as a digestive. Its preparation involves a long steeping of the bark of “Ginebona Officinalis” and the addition of aromatic herbs. To conclude, we must mention the bread of Altopascio, which is particularly suited to making canapès of minced chicken livers. It is also excellent stale, in soups or in desserts.
Where to stay in Lucca
There are numerous high quality hotels, villas, apartments and agriturismi (Farm stays) available in Lucca, check them out and make a reservation here.
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