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 in La Spezia and surroundings offer good alternatives to the “usual pizza”. Translation: cheap and filling food.
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, you don’t even need 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, may well be to understand the differences between the various dishes. Here you can always eat 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 – are disks of batter, stacked one above the other. Still hot, they are served stuffed with cold cuts and cheese.
Sgabei – typical of the Val di Magra – are 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 become tired of pasta. Actually, Italian and La Spezia cuisine do not just exclude vegetables, they include them widely.
The truth is this: you can enjoy soups pretty much everywhere, but the minestrone with the addition of some pesto sauce is something extraordinary that you can have only in the area.
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 chards or contain the most diverse vegetables) will eventually conquer you.
Finally, don’t 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 a mixture of legumes and cereals. It was often made with the surplus of goods transported to the port of La Spezia, collected to produce a dish of considerable substance.