Lunigiana is rich in traditions and one that attracts a lot of attention is the production of chestnut flour, that has obtained the DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta).
This flour is obtained tfrom a centuries-old process of drying and grinding chestnuts. First, the fruits are stored in a metato, which is a small stone or brick building for drying the chestnuts, where a fire is lit with chestnut wood.
They allowed us to take a peek inside the building while the chestnuts were still inside.
The chestnuts remain here for 25-30 days and once that time has passed and they are sufficiently dry, they are removed and placed in a machine called a battitore (beater), through which the skin is removed. In old times, this process was performed through a ballatura, an operation that consisted of stepping on the partially peeled chestnuts in order to remove the skin completely. It was a celebratory occasion and people danced over them accompanied by popular songs.
Once all the chestnuts are peeled, they're taken to a local mill like the Mulino di Vico which dates back to the late 15th century and is one of the few that are still active in the area, using energy supplied by the Acquetta stream.
The process of transforming chestnuts into flour begins in the mill. The flour has a nutty, sweet and smoked flavour, and in order to obtain the DOP certification, it must meet certain requirements:
- the flour must be gluten-free
- the flour must have a specific grain size, neither too thin nor too thick
- a maximum moisture content of 8%