The Casentino is a truly remarkable part of Tuscany. Between Florence and Arezzo, beautiful nature and rich history and traditions take centre stage. It’s also a realm of good food, great recipes and high-quality gastronomic products.
Fruit, vegetables and legumes are the protagonists in the kitchen. Try the Regina di Londa peach, a late-ripening peach created over 50 years ago that is best-used to make jams; the Nesta apple that used to be kept in hay and eaten only in April; the red Cetica potato that is interesting for its chemical and physical properties and is best used to make gnocchi or stews; and the Zolfino Pratomagno bean, ideal if cooked slowly with a touch of extra virgin olive oil; try them on a slice of toasted Tuscan bread or as a side dish to accompany a Chianina steak.
If you like cured meats and cheese, the Casentino is the place for you. Here, exquisite fresh and ripe pecorino, Sanbudello, a dark coloured sausage with a distinct flavour and ham that will have you licking your lips are produced and eaten with Tuscan bread, preferably baked in a wood-fired oven. In the area you’ll often see “Prosciutto Grigio del Casentino”; a ham that comes from the local area, a mix between pink pork and the dark Romagnolo or Cinta Senese pig.
Lovers of fresh pasta will also be satisfied with this angle of Tuscany. Here you can try tortelli nella lastra, a dish from the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines that is prepared following a traditional recipe. Many types of pasta are made with grain or chestnut flours, another delicacy of the area.
We finish this food tour of the Casentino with an Easter delicacy: panina. There are two versions of this “biscuit”: one sweet and one savoury. It was customary that on Easter morning the cavalry from Casentino had an abundant breakfast with panina, boiled eggs, salad, breaded lamb cutlets and ham.