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What to eat in La Spezia: a short guide through La Spezia local food

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From fish to vegetables: a quick guide to try the taste of La Spezia local cuisine

“What should I eat tonight here?”
The increased tourist interest in the territory of La Spezia has made this question more and more frequent.
Faced with the questions of tourists (asking questions like: “What can we eat? What are the local dishes?” ), the poor local inhabitant often gropes and does not know what to say. This is because they wonder whether the non-local will understand the simple, yet so tasteful local cuisine.
Leaving aside the pesto pasta, which still often meets the taste of everyone, although it is more properly a Ligurian dish rather than a specialty specifically from La Spezia, local gastronomy has indeed more than a few delicacies to offer.

Fancy some seafood? Mussels and anchovies can tell you something

“I fancy some fish, but I am on a budget,” say those who know how expensive eating seafood in many Italian cities can be. The nice thing is that in La Spezia area if you really want to eat carbon-free, enjoying seafood at affordable prices is possible.

Mussels, the “Muscoli” in La Spezia

If there are two things the local sea cuisine can not really do without, these are mussels and anchovies, two local excellence products that with not much expense will send you in awe. The first is bred in the Gulf of La Spezia and is a real local pride, the latter is caught off of Cinque Terre.

How are they prepared?

As a condiment for pasta (if you fancy a pasta dish), or in many ways if you are looking for something different. Anchovies can be a tasty appetizer if served in oil or marinated, and an excellent second course if fried, filled or in scabecio (cooked in vinegar). There are, however, two anchovies based dishes that I associate with the local cuisine: the bagnun (a sauce with abundant anchovies and slices of toast) and anchovies and potato pie.

Mussels, on the other hand, can be prepared alla marinara ( plain: boiled with some lemon on it) or – a real local delicacy – filled (a must try).


Stuffed Mussels.a typical local seafood
A debated recipe: the filling of the stuffed mussels

No mortadella according to the Chef


Testaroli, panigacci and sgabei: never disappointing

I would like to go out to eat, but I am wearing shorts! “.
You might often have the impression that there are only fancy restaurants in town. Do not fear: Val di Vara, Val di Magra and Lunigiana are the places to be for a more chilled atmosphere.

Restaurants of La Spezia and surroundings offer good alternatives to the “usual pizza”. Translating: cheaply, so much yield.

I’ve actually seen very few people complain about a meal based on testaroli, panigacci, and sgabei. Panigacci di Podenzana, cotti a legna nei testi. Compared to the past, moreover, it is no longer even needed to venture to Lunigiana (although it still is the ideal option), since both Val Graveglia, Val Durasca, Sarzana and lately La Spezia count places that offer these dishes. The hardest thing, in this case, it may well be to get the differences between the various dishes. Here you can get away well: Testaroli is a typical dish of Lunigiana (more precisely from Pontremoli). They are made of a mixture of water, flour, and salt. Quickly boiled in water, they are then topped with pesto, sauce or oil and parmesan cheese. Panigacci – spread throughout Liguria Lunigiana – disks of batter, prepared in small clay texts stacked one above the other. Still hot, they are served stuffed with cold cuts and cheese.

Sgabei – typical of the Val di Magra – made with a yeast dough with flour, water, salt and oil and then fried in plenty of olive oil. Tasty food plain or stuffed.

And the vegetables? Minestrone, vegetable pies … and mescciüa …

But where can I eat some fresh veggies? – asked the tourist.
The answer is easy: everywhere.

You might think that Italian cuisine is only based on carbs, and feel tired of it very soon. Actually, Italian and La Spezia cuisine do not just exclude vegetables, but actually include them widely.
The truth is this: you can have soups anywhere, but the minestrone with the addition of some pesto sauce is something extraordinary that you can have only here.

Do not underestimate also the very typical vegetable pies. Almost taken for granted by locals, and thus barely offered to tourists, the vegetable pie (which can be made with rice and chard or contain the most diverse vegetables) will eventually conquer you.

Finally, not to forget the mescciüa (an unpronounceable name for non-La Spezia people). This soup is a La Spezia dish and brings in its name itself the sign of its origin. In the local language, mesciua means mixing and indicates the mixture of legumes and cereals which was the surplus of goods transported in the port of La Spezia, collected to make a plate of considerable substance.


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