Breakfast is often your first taste of Tuscany and it’s long been regarded as the most important meal of the day. A tourist attraction in itself, look out for authentic and traditional foods bearing the Vetrina Toscana logo and short descriptions at hotels and agriturismos on your next overnight stay in Tuscany. Serving breakfast based on local products expresses the close connection with the territory as well as respect for the environment. Every hotel varies the breakfast depending on the area. Delve deeper into the region with these five breakfast specialities from the Lucca area before indulging in colazione inside or outside the medieval walls of the picturesque town.
Buccellato is a traditional sweet that is eaten all year round, but especially during the Feast of the Cross and the Palio della Balestra held every September in Lucca. The name buccellato comes from the Latin buccella, meaning morsel. This sweet treat was originally ring-shaped and carried home from the bakery by popping your arm in the middle like a bracelet, particularly on Sundays after Mass. Today’s buccellato di Lucca is often linear like a loaf of bread. The recipe is straightforward: no eggs are used in the dough, instead the richness hails from raisins and aniseed. Buccellato is light, with a cornucopia of aromas, and perfect for dipping.
Farina di Neccio della Garfagnana DOP is flour made from grinding dried chestnuts, which are gathered in October and November before being dried over low heat in old drying houses known as metati. After about 40 days, the chestnuts are peeled before being stone-ground at the mill. The fine flour has a distinctive colour that ranges from white to dark ivory and is slightly bitter. In the Garfagnana area, the word neccio is synonymous with chestnuts and dates to around the year 1000, when vast areas of uncultivated land were planted with chestnut trees (also referred to as “bread trees”) to feed the growing local populace. The production of flour quickly ensued. Farina di Neccio della Garfagnana DOP is used to make many local dishes, including manafregoli, chestnut flour cooked with milk; castagnaccio, a flat cake made from chestnut flour, olive oil, walnuts and pine nuts; and neccio, deemed as the bread of Garfagnana, consisting of chestnut flour, salt and water.
3. Prosciutto Bazzone
Bazzone is an aged prosciutto with an elongated shape, which is produced in the Garfagnana area and the Serchio Valley according to a 19th-century local food tradition. Benefitting from the protection of the Slow Food organization, Bazzone ham is made from free-range grey pigs that feed on spelt and dairy by-products, fruit, acorns and chestnuts. The meat is coated in salt for three months with the occasional massage before being rinsed, dried and set aside to age for at least 20 months. Deep red in hue, the intensely flavoured prosciutto vaunts forest floor aromas, such as walnuts, acorns and chestnuts. Produced by the Bellandi family for four generations, Bazzone takes its name from the long shape that makes it resemble a protruding chin, known as “bazzo” in the local dialect.
4. Smoked trout
Trout has been served in every possible form in Garfagnana since the mists of time. The Medici family had it brought from their landholdings in the Serchio Valley to be marinated and served as a speciality as court banquets. In the past, brown trout was caught the most in local streams. In the second half of the 1900s, the first fisheries started to be introduced here with rainbow and albino varieties. Garfagnana soon became a reference for trout farming due to various factors, including the lack of pollution and low population numbers. Trout is healthier than salmon, with the same Omega 3 levels, but containing less fat and being easier to digest.
5. Potato bread
The tradition of baking potato bread, also referred to as garfagnino, is still alive and well in parts of the Garfagnana and the Serchio Valley. It’s a take on the mishmash bread of the past in continental Europe, especially in terms of the low cereal content. The recipe calls for the addition of 15% mashed potato, some semolina, wheatgerm and sea salt to the wheat flour. The leavening is activated by a starter, to which some brewer’s yeast is added to dial down the acidity. The potatoes, all locally grown, make the bread soft, flavourful and easy to keep. Shaped into oval loaves, the bread is sprinkled with cornflour before being baked in an oven stacked with oak logs. Pair the mildly flavoured bread, normally weighing one or two kilos, with pancetta or other local cured meats like biroldo, a blood sausage, and mondiola salami.
About Vetrina Toscana
Toscana Promozione Turistica and Federalberghi Toscana recently introduced the Vetrina Toscana Breakfast campaign to encourage hotels and accommodation owners across Tuscany to serve top local speciality foods as the first meal of the day to guests. The goal is to enable tourists to discover Tuscan food traditions: each town, village and hamlet has a specific culinary identity and a tangible cultural heritage that must not be lost.
Vetrina Toscana is a project by the Tuscany Region and Unioncamere Toscana that promotes restaurants, producers and speciality food stores. It’s a network of people and companies who share the same principles and goals: promoting the gastronomic identity and products of Tuscany with a focus on local destinations in line with responsible and sustainable tourism.