Spring Food-Lovers Guide to Lucca Tuscany

General Press Releases Tuesday August 21, 2018 15:39
Bangkok--21 Aug--Hill+Knowlton Strategies
A veritable feast for the senses, here is the ultimate guide to eat, drink, shop and know your way around charming Lucca.

While Tuscany's Florence, Pisa or Siena may have masses of admirers, food-lovers shouldn't discount the culinary charm of historical Lucca. Established by the Etruscans and now a charming walled city filled with fabulous food delights.When is the best time to enjoy those sensory pleasures? Spring of course!

Highlights and History

Located approximately 80km from Florence, Lucca became a Roman village in 180 BC. Until the French Revolution in 1789 the town was independent and is most famous for its historical walls. Originally built in the 16th century, the walls were demilitarized during the Napoleon era, and have been public gardens

since – perfect for a a post-restaurant stroll. Lucca is also celebrated for its charming Piazza

dell'Anfiteatro - a bustling plaza in a unique elliptical shape. The rare rounded shape is due to the fact several centuries ago, this very spot was a Roman amphitheater that held gladiador battles for audiences of 10,000!

Vinni Liquori Vanni

If you love good Italian wine, this should be your first stop in Lucca. The unassuming street-level shop hides a multitude of treasures – namely 55,000 bottles of wine! Below a slew of stairs is an 800-year-old stone wall cellar that is celebrated for its cool air, allowing them to have five-decades old bottles in the 300sqm space. Best way to enjoy? Book a wine tasting session, and owner Paolo Petroni will treat you to a series of fine wines, and an assortment of local foods – the perfect afternoon combination!

2. COOK:
Il Cuore Cooking class

Aptly named 'The Heart', Il Cuore is a gourmet shop, bistro and most importantly – hosts traditional Tuscan cooking classes. Teaming with artisanal cheeses and Lucchese goodies handpicked by the local owners, the cozy space is perfect for a hands-on session

At the helm is Chef Giuseppe, who was literally born into the food business - starting life at an olive oil mill where his grandfather operated an olive oil press. After teaching around the world, he travelled back to Lucca to share his passion for traditional dishes based on organic produce.

The intimate class uses only local and seasonal produce, with white asparagus and artichokes a local specialty in early spring. A great way to learn about little-known dishes and wine pairing – then enjoy the fruits of the days labor in a spectacular shared meal.

3. KNOW:
The Homeland of Olive Oil

In Lucca, meals are served with two essential components of the Tuscan diet: unsalted regional bread and olive oil. Tuscany came to the forefront in the production of olive oil as early as 1400. It's not surprising then that the world's biggest olive oil brand had its humble beginnings in Lucca. Bertolli Olive oil, famous all around the world, was founded in a small grocery store in Lucca in 1865 by Francesco Bertolli and his wife, Caterina.

Caption: Modern-day Lucca and a photo of Banco Bertolli Building from 1940

In 1875, Italian emigrants in America found themselves missing the food of their heritage and asked Francesco Bertolli to send boxes of his famous olive oil, making Bertolli brand the pioneer of olive oil in the USA. Even today in Lucca you can find the Banco Bertolli building, old factory, and the Bertolli family still lives there. Even the new-look bottle by the brand is inspired by Lucca!

Caption: L: Great-grandson of Francesco Bertolli, Giulio Bertolli in Lucca, with famous Thai chef Nan Hongwiwat. R: Workers in the Lucca Bertolli factory in the 1959
4. BUY:
Da Prospero Lucca Originale Shop & Ortofrutta Lucca

For food fanatics, the best kinds of souvenirs are the edible kind! And the best place to get them are both shops - local specialists offering the best tastes of Lucca. Da Prospero Lucca Originale is a family-owned dried foods specialist where you can find beautifully presented organic and wholefood staples: dried beans, dried fruit, grains, plus amazing olive oils, balsamic vinegars and pasta varieties. The pulses are displayed in the old-fashioned way: large canvas bags with do-it-yourself scoops. The products are all artisan and hand-picked from local purveyors.

Finally, the most colorful yet authentic way to see seasonal produce is at Ortofrutta Lucca – a fruit and vegetable shop. Run as a grocer for Lucca's locals, the walls are filled with the freshest harvests including verdant tomatoes, greens you may never have seen before and plump, just-picked fruits. They also have a small counter with pre-prepared foods – a must-try!

About Bertolli

Founded in the small Tuscan town of Lucca, Italy, the Bertolli name has been at the heart of Italian cooking and eating for 150 years with the world's favorite olive oil (made by Deoleo). At the heart of the Bertolli brand is a commitment to quality, dedication to leveraging the natural goodness of ingredients and a tradition of providing outstanding and flavorful food. For more information, please visit https://www.facebook.com/BertolliTH/.

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