Versilia: flavors and culinary traditions – Tours of Tuscany
Versilia is an urbanized line sitting between the Tyrrenian Sea and the Apuan Alps, in the western Tuscany. During the last centuries, commercial reasons have led the people of Versilia to have a close relationship with the sea. In fact, since the XV century its inhabitants undertook some projects to make the land more usable. Not only Versilia became then more popular, but also a more beautiful region.
You surely know something about Italian cuisine: not only the simplicity and the freshness of ingredients, but also the different locations have contributed to its growth. I could say the same for Versilia: placed between mountains and sea, this land’s location has had a great role in its cooking. And you can see it even today, with the most typical recipes of Versilia mix flavors of the sea and of the mountains. Barley with fish, or shrimp and calamari baked with barley and seasoned with olives are just few examples. There is more to discover.
Must-visit Towns in Versilia
Some of the flavors of Versilia have an international taste which dates in the 1827 in Viareggio, where the first bathing resort of Italy was born. But Viareggio is also the main fishing port in Versilia, and it’s worth your time. For instance, you can visit one of the many fish markets in town, preferably in the morning, when the fish is fresh and bears the sound of the night and the sea.
If you move to Camaiore, you can taste the “scarpaccia“. It is a traditional vegetable pie which, unlike in the rest of Versilia, it’s savoury in this version. The mix between the mountains and the sea is always present: Lido di Camaiore is known for a risotto with cuttlefish and swiss chard, while octopus is often cooked with potatoes and olive oil and not with tomatoes, like in the rest of Tuscany.
While getting closer to the coast, you can find the “caciucco” cooked in the traditional cast iron pot. In Versilia, caciucco is cooked with less spices than in the other areas of coastal Tuscany, but it is sweetened with abundance of shellfish and seafood . Try also the “spaghetti alla trabbaccolara” with razor clams, a very typical dish directly coming from sea traditions.
The last stop of this brief trip to Versilia’s flavors and cuisine is Forte dei Marmi. In the origins, it was a mercantile port which made its fortune in exporting the marble from Carrara. However, today nothing remains of the old mariner’s town but the squat blockhouse guarding the coast. If you are looking for some of the best seafood restaurants in Italy, be sure you can find them here.
Did you know you can cross Versilia with the Via Francigena? If you are curious about this ancient road, I wrote some posts about it: