When the local cuisine is excellent, the memory of those flavours will stay with long after you have returned home from your holiday. Viterbo and the entire Tuscia area are rich with top quality produce that are still used in many recipes and are beautifully presented in the restaurants dotted around this lovely part of Italy. As the choice is extremely wide and varied, many are the food and wine itineraries one could choose and many are indeed the visitors who have already experienced the local excellence.
The starting point of your tour is not issue: should you decide to head South from Northern Lazio or to go West – from the Appennini mountains towards the Thyrrenian Sea – a huge variety of delicious flavours awaits you: they will tell you a story of ancient traditions, of grandmothers’ recipes, of a land that prides itself on still being mainly rural.
They say that it is when you sit down at a dinner table that you get to fully appreciate the culture of a territory and this is especially true when you are in Tuscia: from starters to desserts, every single course will talk to your taste buds, suggesting feelings and emotions that make you feel like a local. Meat, fish, vegetables: there is always something to suite everybody’s taste. Whitefish, eels and lattarini coming from Lake Bolsena are the main ingredient of many recipes and they are often served as street-food too. The countryside North of Viterbo provides the best meat you could eat whilst touring the area: the famous Maremma Laziale meat, tender when served fresh, tasty when used for cured meats.
Vegetarians and Vegans are also going to be spoilt for choice: look for the Fagioli del Purgatorio (beans) from Gradoli, the lentils from Onano, the Ceci del Solco Dritto (chickpeas) from Valentano, the Alto Lazio potatoes and the different types of cabbage coming from Tarquinia, Montalto di Castro, Canino and Monteromano.
Among these local excellences, the DOP Tuscia extra virgin olive oil has the badge of honor: produced using indigenous cultivar such as Frantoio, Canino and Leccino, this tasty olive oil is the key ingredient of all the local recipes. When it comes to desserts, instead, the hazelnuts produced in the Cimini mountains get the leading role: you will find them – just to name a few – in the Tozzetti – crunchy biscuits usually dunked in sweet wine – and in the Nellina, the famous chocolate spread.
The Tuscia is served
Virgina Woolf used to say that “one cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” This is ever so true and – if we may add – one cannot fully enjoy a holiday if the food does not live up to the expectations. If you wish to go for a safe bet, try I Giardini di Ararat. Located in Bagnaia – a lovely village just outside Viterbo – I Giardini di Ararat is an agritourism immersed in a park with old chestnut trees and a breath-taking view over Viterbo. The restaurant, managed by the Chef Laura Belli, has a carefully crafted menu: all the dishes are prepared using seasonal products, personally chosen by the Chef, and they perfectly combine the local tradition with a modern twist. Since I Giardini di Ararat is also part of the Slow Food Organization, you can rest assured that the food you will enjoy is going to be good for you, good for those who grow it and good for the planet.
So, are you ready for an unforgettable food experience in Tuscia?