Discovering a historic region, full of charm, culture and excellent food and wine that masterfully narrate
the peculiarities of the “border” area
A millenary territory, suspended between a crystalline sea, dreamy remains of Roman civilization and the white marble heart of the Apuan Alps. I’m talking about Lunigiana, an historical Italian region located between the territories of upper Tuscany and lower Liguria. An area full of charm and appeal that takes its name from the ruins of the city of Luni, an ancient Roman colony of strategic port importance. There are many excellences within this wonderful borderland: from the already mentioned “white gold” of Carrara (for which I recommend a visit to the Fantiscriviti Cave, an enchanted place especially at sunset, when the warm sunrays illuminate this infinite silver mountain ), to the famous Colonnata lard, without forgetting great wines and high-profile fine dining solutions. In Castelnuovo magra, a small town in the province of La Spezia, stands “Ca’ Lunae”, an authentic enological reference point of the area. Waiting for me in a magnificent late 18th century farmhouse is Diego Bosoni, heart and soul, together with his father Paolo, of this virtuous reality that makes quality in the bottle its trademark.
The company was born shortly after the mid-1900s with the idea of rediscovering those traditional vines that the intense effect of post-war urbanization was making disappear. The sixty-five hectares of vineyards owned by Ca’ Lunae are divided into three areas, like a puzzle with a Picasso look: the hilly area, characterized by difficult and rocky terrain, is flanked by an area on the foothills that is on average softer , which finally gives way to the incredible Piana di Luni, with sandy soils and vines located in the heart of the ancient Roman city. The peculiarities of these three soils are obviously reflected in the bouquet of scents and flavors of the twelve labels produced by Ca’ Lunae, where Vermentino is the master. A real gem of the company, Vermentino is a delicate vine, whose grapes need to be picked at the right time to obtain the right freshness and acidity.
The mission of the dynamic and eclectic Diego Bosoni is to debunk the idea of a Vermentino that is only fresh and suitable for summer consumption, but to promote it as a product capable of facing time, benefiting from it. It is with this in mind that “Ca’ Lunae” has conceived “Numero Chiuso”, a small wine gem (there are only 2600 bottles produced annually), which sees the light after 18 months of aging in barrels and as many in the bottle. Naturally, the fresh and sober essence of Vermentino is not forgotten by the Company; a perfect example is “LaBianca”, a product of the Piana di Luni. A delicate, enveloping and intoxicating palate, the result of the perfect marriage between Vermentino and Malvasia, another important grape variety in these areas. After a day spent among vineyards, marble quarries and clinking glasses, it’s time to sit down at the table; the choice falls on an award-winning address in the area.
“Locanda de Banchieri” tells of a bucolic reality in the hills of Fosdinovo (MS), a charming resort created from the foundations of an ancient patrician villa, surrounded by greenery in all its forms. Four modern rooms, with breathtaking views of the Ligurian Sea, a modern salt water swimming pool and a haute cuisine restaurant, allow guests to fully immerse themselves in the relaxing mood of Lunigiana. Patron of the structure and executive chef of the homonymous fine dining is Giacomo Devoto, a globetrotter from Sarzana who, after years at the helm of the Belvedere Refuge in the Aosta Valley, has chosen to return to his own land with great ambitions. Giacomo’s cuisine is in total symbiosis with the local area, caressed by the multiple inter-regional winds that caress the Lunigiana area. Chef Devoto’s philosophy bypasses the by now universal combination of tradition and innovation (a concept so inflated that it is no longer very interesting and credible), focusing on an authentic upheaval of traditional cuisine.
The ingredients remain the same, such as the top quality fish product and an enormous variety of herbs and vegetables, rigorously grown in the well-kept garden adjacent to the restaurant. What changes is the essence of the recipe: curious and innovative combinations make “La Locanda de Banchieri” an extremely current address that is coherent with the surrounding area. A shining example of what has just been written can be found in the Risotto, seafood soup extract, wild herbs, an authentic signature dish by chef Devoto. Excellent rice, cephalopod soup extract and five “house” herbs such as basil, fennel, marigold, mint, lemon verbena. To mitigate everything, like a seasoned conductor, a cypress butter with soft and woody scents. “Ca’ Lunae” and “Locanda de Banchieri” therefore represent two excellences of a territory still not affected by mass tourism; a “no borders” area that can count on a glorious past and a certainly rosy future.