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Fontanabuona Valley: flavors and traditions

From the Gulf of Tigullio to the Apennines: olive groves, vineyards and slate quarries

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Where is

Liguria

Cicagna, Genoa, Liguria, 16044, Italia (0m s.l.m.)

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What it is and where it is

Behind Chiavari lies the picturesque Val Fontanabuona, which has the unique characteristic of curving northwestward, taking elevation parallel to the coast between two mountain ridges. The name refers to the wealth of springs and streams, hence the bounty of an area that has a sunny slope, favorable to vines and olive trees, and a cooler slope, suited instead to pastoral activities. An ancient fief of the Fieschi family, it has benefited for centuries from trade along the valley floor road, a privileged route of communication with the Po Valley lands.

Why it is special

The valley immediately proves worthy of its name, open to green and relaxing scenery; first the famous gardens of Lavagna, then the vineyards of Vermentino and Dolcetto, then the olive groves, especially in that of Leivi. On the table are 'baciocca,' a potato-based pie, and 'corzetti,' the typical pasta of the Genovesato region. From Val d'Aveto, the cheese of San Stè, to be heated on a slate slab, is worth mentioning. From Val Graveglia, the Quarantina potato and red onion from Ne should be mentioned; then, certain cheeses that are enjoyed with 'testaroli,' small flatbreads cooked on earthenware plates. Dulcis in fundo, from the Sturla valley, the ' rotelle di Borzonasca, ' pastry doughnuts sought after by Ligurians all over the world.

Not to be missed

The Levant and in particular the Tigullio area is the last stronghold of Ligurian textile crafts. In Val Fontanabuona, in Lorsica, for example, the processing of damask, which, as the name implies, has Middle Eastern origins, endures. Only one family, the De Martini sisters, remains active here, and the looms are like those used in the 16th century. It may sound crazy, but the results are extraordinary in the interplay of designs that, in threads of gold and silver, stand out against the intense colors of the background. Also worth visiting is the Damascus Museum, which on four floors tells the thousand-year story of this fabric.

A bit of history

The history of the Fontanabuona Valley has developed since ancient times under the sign ofslate, a blackish rock that can be reduced to slabs and was used as a roofing material for roofs, so much so that the toponym Tigullio derives from the Latin tegula. Over the centuries, slate has extended its applications from blackboards to architectural ornaments; currently its main use is 'hidden' by the green carpet of billiards tables, the tops of which are made of this non-deformable material. More recent is the use in interior design of this understated and elegant stone, consistent with any type of environment.

Trivia

Corzetti is a pasta typical of the Genovesato area and in particular of the Chiavari hinterland. Made of simple dough, with the possible addition of white wine or saffron, they are unmistakable for their shape, medallion-shaped, and decoration, imprinted with special stamps. The name, in fact, comes from the custom of marking them with a cross, hence the term 'croxetto.' Later, noble families wanted to distinguish themselves by stamping their own coat of arms on the pasta. For the seasoning they follow the seasons: what the garden offers in spring; herbs and pine nuts in summer; porcini mushrooms in autumn; taggiasche olives in winter.

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Francesco Soletti

Val Fontanabuona, a name that encourages the discovery of this splendid glimpse of inland Liguria...

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