Fresh pastries and bakery, biscuit, confectionary and pastry products;
1. Product name:
2. Other names:
Bollento, gaccio, cian
3. Short product description:
Necci or bollenti are big, shallow bowls made from chestnut flour. They are approximately 25cm in diameter and brown coloured with a soft consistency and taste and aroma of chestnuts. They are cooked on steel plates or baking stones called “testi”, which are placed on the fire. It’s customary to eat them still warm with ricotta and rolled to look like a cannolo.
4. Production area:
They are made in the mountains of Pistoia, in Garfagnana and Lunigiana, and in areas with a lot of chestnut orchards.
5. Production status:
r disappeared r at risk r active
6. Production process:
The flour is placed in a bowl with water and a pinch of salt. It’s mixed to get a fairly thick dough. Two-three soupspoons of the mixture are then placed on the preheated and greased plates and cooked for 2-3 minutes. Once removed, the necci are filled with ricotta, rolled and eaten warm. In the Pistoia area, chestnut flour is often stored in chestnut wood containers called “bugni” or “bigonce”, or in wooden cabinets called “arconi”. From these, the flour is removed in flakes, placed on a sieve and minced by hand. Before cooking, the “testi” plates are lain on chestnut leaves that have been left to soak in warm water to stop the mixture from sticking to the stones and to give the necci a unique flavour. A teaspoon of the mixture is placed on the leaves and another leaf is stuck on top. The filled plates are stacked on the “testaiola”, making a row of about 10 plates with a decreasing diameter from bottom to top.
7. Materials, equipment and premises used for production:
s Place to store the flour
s Chestnut wood containers called “bugni” or “bigonce” and cabinets called “arconi” to store the flour
s Wooden sieves
s Chestnut leaves
s Plates for cooking
s “Testaiola” to hold the plates
8. Notes on traditionalism, homogeneity of spread and persistence of production rules over time:
While its origins are unknown, neccio owes its uniqueness to the use of chestnut flour and traditional tools and equipment, including the chestnut wood containers used to store the flour, the “testi” plates and the “testaiola” used for cooking which, together with the chestnut leaves, are responsible for the product’s unique flavour. Once upon a time, woodcutters and charcoal burners would eat neccio cold or in the place of chestnut polenta while working in the woods.
Neccio or bollento is primarily an artisanal product that is particularly delicious warm, making it difficult to include even in a small-scale sales and distribution network. At town festivals, necci are prepared using the traditional utensils including the “testi” pans. They are available on the menus of some agriturismi, restaurants and trattorias in the Pistoia mountain area (especially in San Marcello Pistoiese). At certain times of the year, some bakeries sell necci, but it’s impossible to estimate the quantity produced. In Garfagnana and Lunigiana, necci are made in some bakeries, especially those with wood-fired ovens, but it is primarily an at-home product, prepared for celebrations and especially popular during the chestnut season. It’s produced primarily in winter, when fresh chestnut flour is available. It can feature on restaurant and agriturismo menus that offer traditional Garfagnana fare.