The Valdinievole carefully looks after its ancient traditions and it is an area rich in wine, food and crafts, to learn all about and to try: every hamlet and village, all the year round, can be the right place and moment for a delicious break.
At table, it maintains its authenticity thanks to simple recipes and top quality ingredients. The Montalbano IGP oil – an extra virgin olive oil of the highest quality – comes from an expert cold pressing method of the century-old olives, which let out intense perfumes and flavours. It is perfect to be dribbled over a Sorana IGP bean soup, white and red beans, delicate and tasty.
Next to the oil is the wine which is competing for the title of King of the Tuscan Table. A goblet of Chianti Montalbano DOCG (Registered and Certified Designation of Origin) wine is the perfect partner for a platter of mixed cheeses and salamis, ranging from raw milk pecorino cheese, to the ‘buristo’, a typical cured meat made of pork and pig’s blood, right up to the ‘finocchiona’ IGP, the most famous of Tuscan salamis, made unique by its taste of the seeds and flowers of fennel.
As for the aperitif and also for more delicate dishes, try the dry, lively and harmonious taste of the Bianco della Valdinievole DOC (Registered Designation of Origin) white wine, with its golden yellow colour, sometimes with a touch of bubbles. The Bianco della Valdinievole Vin Santo Doc, ideal with a dessert at the end of the meal, together with the ever-present ‘cantuccini’ (almond biscuits) is made when these same grapes wilt and dry out..
Traditional cooking also offers the ‘grosso di Pescia’, an asparagus which can grow to be 50 cm long; it is an ancient product of exceptional quality and nowadays it is cultivated only by a very few farmers. Cheap cuts of meat – typical of poor cooking – make filling and tasty dishes such as the ‘cioncia’, which is made of the more solid and hardened parts of the calf’s head, flavoured with spices, black olives and chili peppers.
There are three desserts which compete for the title of ambassador of the Valdinievole: ‘brigidini’ from Lamporecchio, crisp wafers flavoured with aniseed, always present and known all over Italy in its village street parties and festivals; chocolate from Monsummano Terme, the pride of the Tuscan “Chocolate Valley”; and the wafer from Montecatini, filled with a delicious mixture of sugar and crushed almonds and is the town’s typical sweet, made by families of pastry chefs among which are the Bargilli family (since 1936) and the Desideri family.