The Terre di Pisa is a land of flavours and authentic produce that can satisfy any palate. From the sweetness of honey to the decisive character of the truffle, here is a tour to be tasted and savoured, with a nice glass of wine in hand.
An amber colour and the aromas of Mediterranean shrub are the defining features of this beach honey, an organic rarity produced along the coastline of the San Rossore Park. Its distinctive ingredients include the oils from Helichrysum which, harvested by the bees, lend the honey an incredible smell.
You can take part in tastings at the park apiary, in the San Rossore estate.
When we talk about olive oil from the Terre di Pisa, it means we're walking the Monti Pisani Oil Trail, stopping at Buti, Vicopisano, Calci, San Giuliano Terme and Vecchiano.
The cultivars grown here are Frantoio, Moraiolo and Leccino. The extra virgin olive oil extracted from these three species of olive, handpicked and cold pressed, are given the label of "IGP Toscano", with the Monti Pisani subzone. You find it at farm shops, dedicated olive presses and at various other outlets, including restaurants, of course. Many oily events take place around here, especially during the harvest period from October to December.
The Colline Pisane (Pisan Hills) Wine Trail is a route that combines tastings with hilltowns, monuments with museums, historic with artistic value. Some of the stops include Pontedera's Museo Piaggio, the museum centre of Peccioli, the Romanesque country churches of Palaia, and the Teatro del Silenzio in Lajatico.
High-quality wines are produced along this route, namely the Sangiovese-based Chianti DOCG, the Colli dell'Etruria Centrale DOC (both white and red), and the dry and delicate Bianco Pisano di San Torpè DOC. The Terre di Pisa DOC wine consortium can boast major wineries within its precincts, which have countless vineyards of Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot along with the indispensable Sangiovese.
The Pisan hills have been producing superb pasta for longer than anyone can remember. Climate and soil are particularly favourable here when it comes to growing grain.
The process of making pasta unfolds over different stages, none of which are quick: low temperatures are deliberately used in order to really bring out the flavours of the grain. You will find many a family-run pasta factory in Casciana Terme e Lari.
The stretch of Pisan territory that runs from San Miniato to Palaia and Peccioli, extending south to touch the crags of Volterra, could be nicknamed the "truffle trail".
For the last fifty years, San Miniato has hosted the National White Truffle Market Exhibition. An association of truffle hunters also exists in order to safeguard and transmit the identity and skills of the truffle hunter. No one knows the woods, or the abilities of a dog, better.
Palaia and Peccioli contribute to the truffle scene with guided tasting sessions and outdoor hunting trips in search of this local white gold.
The distinguishing feature of this chocolatey cake is the crust: a fortress of puff pastry that houses a rice and chocolate filling. The recipe for torta coi bischeri does not guarantee the most aesthetically pleasing results. Sometimes it can look a bit rough and ready, while at others it will come out elegant and highly presentable. Whatever its appearance, it always tastes incredible.
This cake benefits from a registered label of quality control, which prescribes the use of rice, dried fruits, raisins, cocoa powder, chocolate and pine nuts from the San Rossore park. You can try them in bakeries in Pontasserchio, Vecchiano and San Giuliano Terme (the birthplace of the recipe), but you will find them all over the Terre di Pisa.
Craft breweries have recently been springing up all over the Pisan area, usually piloted by young devotees of beer. Their products use high-quality raw materials and slow, painstaking brewing practices.
Sheep-grazing plays a vital role in local agriculture, which is why, in the past, Sardinian shepherd families flocked here in search of pastures new.
From San Rossore Park to Fauglia to Lajatico, you will find different flavours and different consistencies and discover the aromas and fragrances that make this product, such a hallmark of the area, what it is.
Rich in protein, low in fat - that's snail meat in a nutshell. Snail farming is an important business, not only for the food market but also for cosmetics. Only now do we fully appreciate all the beneficial, regenerative and antioxidant properties of pure snail mucus.
The snails are raised in a clean environment, in such a way as to guarantee a fresh, high-quality, cruelty-free product. Snail farms, even a snail farming consortium, are open for visits and guided tasting sessions.
There is a part of Tuscany that produces superb artisan chocolate, which has earned it the nickname of "Chocolate Valley". This includes some Pisan territory.
And chocolate - along with wine, oil and all the products that we have just read about - is showcased every year at the Terre di Pisa Food&Wine Festival, the exhibition that promotes Pisan viticulture and gastronomy.