Posts made in October, 2009

Pancosanti, a Sienese Tradition

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Perhaps the most Tuscan of all traditional Tuscan pastries and cakes, Pancosanti, also knows as Pan co’ Santi or Panricco, literally means “Bread with Saints“. There is a double reason for the latter name. As all Tuscan recipes, Pancosanti was also born by the ingenuity of the poor people that was used to go by with very little. Nevertheless, they never missed an occasion to sanctify religious events, perhaps even taking it as an excuse to mock their dire situation by going into a cooking spree that they knew they might regret in later times. One of these occasions was All Saints day, celebrated on November 1st by the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, gathering whatever was available to create a rich recipe to celebrate the holy festivity, the...

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Truffle Tour near Siena

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The white truffle tour is a great one to do by car or motorcycle, and it is only 30 kilometers long, but quite intense. The tour starts in San Giovanni d’Asso, a small town just south of Siena, where lay many hamlets, villages and castles. The town is a natural bridge between the Crete region and the Val d’Orcia. In this area white truffles are known since ancient times. Plutarch ventured that this tuber is born from the combination of water, heat and lightning. Science mixed with folk beliefs have covered truffles with mystery to the point that no one knew if it was a plant or an animal. Truffles also used to be called the food of the devil and witches, due to their sulfurous smell. Some Italian politicians in the 19th century used truffles as a...

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Gostanza, The “Witch” of San Miniato

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The past of Tuscany includes dark chapters that should not be omitted when talking about it. This story is about witch hunting, and what better days of the year if not these days to open this chapter? Allow me to introduce to you the story of a woman that lived about five hundred years ago in a village in Tuscany located midway between Pisa and Florence. A woman no longer young, a widow, and a poor peasant, as she earned a living as a midwife. Was she beautiful? We don’t know, the Inquisition never registered this fact. The misadventure of the woman started in 1594, when in the whereabouts of the Castle of Lari, near Pisa, two women and two men in front of a notary and the vicar of the bishop of Lucca accused Gostanza from Libbiano of killing some children...

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Halloween in Siena

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October 31st will be the 4th Urban Hiking day, and Siena has outlined an interesting trail uniting culture, history art and a sprinkle of mystery! The trail starts at the Botanic Garden, that hosts about 100 different flora species, some even poisonous, to finish off at the Italian Enoteca, an impressive example of Sixteenth century military architecture. Along the route there will be surprises and recounting of the mysterious story behind each place. The Halloween night in Siena also holds a novelty dedicated to children. A Fairy Guide will collect them at 3pm from Piazza del Campo taking them to Saint Augustine’ park. There a “haunted” bus will be waiting for them. On board animators will entertain the children until 6 pm with games about...

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Fagioli al Fiasco Recipe

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This bean recipe is THE Tuscan recipe. The reasons for this statement lay in every aspect of this dish. It is an extremely simple recipe, yet very tasty. Moreover, it requires quite a lot of time and patience. Finally, it is made of all Tuscan ingredients, including the glass flask you need to cook the beans in. All these characteristics are intrinsic Tuscan aspects that you can find everyday in this Italian region. Perhaps patience and time are more attuned to the countryside lifestyle, but the essence remains all Tuscan. If you are interested in Tuscany, this is a recipe you absolutely need to know, even if you have no intention of preparing it. It is part of the Tuscan heritage, and a great piece of conversation, too! Why? Well, as it has already been hinted...

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