Mangia! Mangia! – The Bread of Matera, Italy’s Best?

Matera, located on Italy’s anklebone, boasts of being a UNESCO World Heritage Center with its ancient caves carved in the soft tufa that date back to prehistoric times. (Matera is one of the only places on earth where the residents are still living where their ancestors lived 9,000 years ago.) But what the Materani and visitors alike are more likely to be discussing at any minute of the day is the bread of Matera.  Like the Lardo di Colonnata, the Pane di Matera has been awarded the designation IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta), the only food so honored

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Mangia! Mangia! – Melt In Your Mouth Lardo

Lardo is trendy. Mario Batali is putting it on his pizzas at Otto in New York City and Le Cirque 2000 slices it melting-thin and drapes it over warm country bread. Trattorias and restaurants throughout Italy serve it. Italian butchers and delis sell it by the gram and by the kilo.

Most claim to serve Lardo di Colonnata. But statistics show that 6.5 million kilograms of purported “Lardo di Colonnata” are consumed in Italy per year and Colonnata only produces 160,000 kilos (352,739 pounds) of the savory fat, so about 7 times out of ten it’s not … Read More

Dove Vai – Colonnata, Village of Anarchists, Lardo and Marble

To think of marble is to think of the town of Carrara in the Italian Apuan Alps.  But a more interesting place to visit is the nearby village of Colonnata, which also has a heart of stone, un’anima anarchica (a soul of anarchy), and a palate for lardo

The Colonnata basin constitutes the eastern part of the Carrara marble region and holds about seventy quarries, forty-four of which are still active.  Arrive via a narrow winding road that goes up the valley cut by the Carrione river.  On the other side of the canyon it is still possible to … Read More

Burnt to a Crisp – Outlaws on a Bench

Unwary tourists risk getting hefty fines in some Italian cities and villages for doing things that are perfectly legal everywhere in the world.

At Eraclea, near Venice, The Independent of London rightly reports, “parents need to keep a beady eye on their children: sandcastles are banned, as they ‘obstruct the passage’ along the beach.”

“Two people may sit down on a park bench in the city of Novara [Piedmont], but if a third person joins them and it’s after 11pm, all three are breaking the law. In Viareggio, the benches may contain as many people as care to squeeze on … Read More