farina di castagne

Spelt Wheat (Farro) and chestnut flour

These two delicious earthy products can be found in abundance in Garfagnana

Spelt is an ancient cereal, a favourite dish of the Romans, who used it to nourish their legions. Although it has now rare to find, it is still going strong in Garfagnana where it is still made in old stone mills.
Thanks to the popularity of natural, vegetarian and vegan cooking, spelt is becoming increasingly well-known outside its home region.

Spelt soup is a typical Garfagnana dish, is not only delicious, but healthy too. As with all genuine products, the origin of spelt had to be guaranteed and protected. The Garfagnana Mountain Community obtained first the IGP quality certification for this product and later formed a control and promotional committee. This is part of a wider plan aimed at promoting typical local products and protecting the consumer.

‘Le Contee del Farro’ Festival
during the last weekend of July, in Piazza al Serchio. A rich programme of handicraft market stalls and entertainment accompany the tasting of spelt in different recipes, including two versions of excellent beer obtained through the fermentation of the cereal.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, there were eighteen thousand hectares of chestnuts trees growing in the Gafagnana Valley. Their precious fruits were protected by the local governments. Giovanni Pascoli, a famous Italian poet, chose to live in the Serchio Valley and dedicated a lot of poems and songs to chestnut trees.

Many of the chestnuts trees in the Serchio Valley are extremely old. Some of them even their own names such as the Old lady and the Mayor, underlining the confidence that the human population have in these old ‘inhabitants’ of the mountains.

The woods were cultivated for years and provided the backdrop for many historical events and legendary tales. They inspired many popular songs and plays, whose tradition is still alive in the “Canto del Maggio” (Song of May).

Kilns are used to dry the fruits, criss-crossing the countryside they are one of the most common features of the landscapes in the region. They can give food all year round, especially during the cold months of winter. Chestnuts are traditionally dried with a slow burning fire in the ‘metato’ (the drying hut).

After forty days the chestnuts are ready to be ground into ‘farina di Neccio della Garfagnana (chestnut flour from Garfagnana),a product which is guaranteed by the prestigious IGP label today.

The use of the ‘farina di neccio’ is very popular and was once used instead of wheat flour. When the flour is cooked in hot water one can prepare a sweet ‘polenta’to accompany cheese and hams. With the same batter cooked in iron ‘testi’, direct on the fire, one can prepare tasty pancakes which are known locally as ‘necci’.

‘Castagnaccio’ cake is one of the most popular recipes and is eaten throughout Tuscany. Chestnut flour is combined with water and rosemary, orange peel, pine nuts and olive oil and baked in the oven. The flour can also be used to make bread and gnocchi, perhaps served with a tasty meat or mushroom sauce.
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From:01/Jan/2017 to: 31/Dec/2017
Via Del Casalino Town:Capannori