Typical Products of Lucca
A look at the most delicious typical products of the Serchio Valley
Honey, unlike demerara sugar or sugar beet, is easily assimilated, as it does not need refining, coming straight from the hive to the table. It is a great energy-giving food and has been used for many years as a remedy for various ailments. Not all honey, however, is the same. Millefiori honey comes from the Compitese hills or the Serchio Valley and has exclusive characteristics, reflecting the flora of these areas. The same is true of monoflora honey from the Lucca area; chestnut is thought to help respiratory ailments; heather honey has diuretic properties; and acacia, with a high fructose content, can be used in cases of mild diabetes, under medical supervision.
Products from the woodland floor
In the wide glades of the Lucca slopes of the Apennine, especially in Valle del Serchio, blueberry picking is rather widespread, where the species finds the most suitable terrain. But in the whole of the Serchio valley there are different typical woodland products, such as strawberries, raspberries and above all mushrooms, the most renowned of which are the boletus or Garfagnana porcino. Cultivation of other species, such as currents and gooseberries, has started and they are made into exquisite jams. Recent business initiatives in the Lucca area are creating a real woodland fruits market, both for fresh fruit – this is the case for the very precious wild strawberries – as well as for fruit products. The perfume and the flavour of the Garfagnino mushroom is unique, both fresh and dried, cooked according to the traditional recipes of the Serchio Valley. And is worth a “visit” alone, especially when in season.
Milk and meat in the the Serchio Valley
In the greenery of the Garfagnana area, in a still uncontaminated area of nature, a breed of cows grazes: the Garfagnina, once used for the production of milk, meat and work, and today protected as a genetic heritage in danger of extinction. From the Garfagnana bovine breeding grounds Garfagnana Milk is carefullt selected and marketed in a large part of Tuscany. Recently the mark of quality of the meat has also been approved.
The sheep milk produced in the Lucca territory, on the other hand, is completely made into cheese, usually by the same breeders. The sheeps’ cheese belongs to the fatty cheese family for its oiliness, to the hard or semi-hard family for its consistency, and depending on how mature it is to the fresh and matured cheese family. This cheese is excellent in every way and able to satisfy even the most demanding of palates.
Elixir of China Calisaia and Biadina
Created in 1855 by Dr. Pasquale Massagli in the old chemist that still stands in Piazza San Michele in Lucca, the product is obtained by applying the ancient formula that requires a long steeping of Ginebona Officinalis bark and the addition of medecines and aromatic herbs. Completely free of artificial conservatives and colourings the product keeps its original properties and natural perfume. By adding some pinenuts and mixing it with other liquors you get the Lucca speciality invented by “Tista”, the old rope-maker of piazza San Michele.
This is the city’s most renowned dessert. You can find it both in its tradition ring-shape or in the form of a French loaf. It is excellent dunked in cappuccino or even in wine. It is made from flour, sugar, aniseed and currants.
The "Toscano" cigar
Some Kentucky tobacco that had been left in a courtyard was fermented by the rain and then the summer sun, and then this naturally-altered tobacco became the stuffing for some low-cost cigars. And so a more intense and pleasant cigar was born: the Toscano. It was 1818. Today Lucca’s manufacture produces cigars in respect of the tradition of the hand-made Toscano cigar and, with its tobacco-workers trained to treat the tobacco in every phase, represents a true artisan heritage. Today, like in the XIX century, the strong taste of the Tuscan is enclosed in the Toscano cigar.