Traditional Food

La Spezia is a Mediterranean sea city, but if you have already visited other Mediterranean cities, for example in the South of Italy, you will notice differences in local food which here stands out for the mixture of flavors reflecting the important peasant tradition as a background for the sea food tradition. So here you can try both fish and meat, wich often mix and mingle in local dishes.

Of course, trying local fish dishes is something you should do. La Spezia sea is rich in sardines, anchovies and mussels, which have been cultivated here for almost two centuries now, producing a small but tasty variety especially in Portovenere, Lerici, Santa Teresa. A curious fact to know about La Spezia mussles is that in Italian they are called Cozze, and here we call them muscoli, which is more similar to the French (moules) and English word. In on of La Spezia restaurants, you should try a quite unique traditional recipe, the Muscoli Ripieni, filled mussles: the filling is made with bread and ham, in a mixture of sea and land flavors that very well represents the double food local culture. If well prepared, Muscoli ripieni are really delicious, often served as appetizer with cool local white wine.

Of course Muscoli are also very good with a nice pasta, “spaghetti allo scoglio“, made with mussels, clams and shrimps can be the ideal main dish for a dinner on the sea.

Anchovies should not be missed in La Spezia: the Ligurian sea is considered the ideal habitat for oily fish, of which the whole gulf and the Cinque terre sea are rich, especially Monterosso’s acciughe are appreciated for the taste and texture of their flesh. They are often prepared fried, served with other small seafood such as calamari, squid, shrimps. Anchovies can be really good in brine, to be tasted on a warm slice of buttered bread, or for a quick pasta with chili and oil; raw anchovies marinated in oil and lemon are also a real delicacy, a sort of local sushi.

Traditional street food in La Spezia is made with probably the most typical local kitchen’s raw material: chickpea flour, which skillfully brewed with oil, water and salt and cooked in a wood stove turns into Farinata. A slice of farinata and pizza is the perfect snack while you visit the town, or a day on the beach.

Chickpeas is also a main ingredient for the Mes-ciüa, a very simple but nice legumes soup, while something also very typical is any kind of wild herb, richly growing in the Cinque Terre terraces, incredibly scented. Herbs are mixed with seasonal vegetables to prepare pies such as the Pasqualina pie and its relatives, here generally called Torte d’erbi.

Focaccia is a Ligurian kind of bread, soft and oily at several levels according to the taste. In La Spezia, a “triangle”, triangolo di focaccia, is generally quite oily.