Pistoia is a pleasant city to live and discover step by step also and above all with regard to the rich and varied local gastronomy in addition to typical products. Pistoia and its province boast many quality agri-food products that testify to the excellence of the territory in which they were produced. Imagination, creativity and passion are the added values that have allowed many products to be known beyond regional and national borders. In addition, to support small excellent productions that risk disappearing, enhance the territory and recover traditional crafts and work techniques, Slow Food presidia for biodiversity were born, to restore value to food and to those who produce it in respect of the environment and the ecosystem.
Raw milk pecorino from the Pistoia mountains (Slow Food presidium)
The peculiarity of this cheese is due to the use of raw milk and natural rennet and to the particular aging conditions. In the Pistoia Apennines, sheep farming still uses traditional methods; the farming technique, based on free housing with grazing of the animals, is fundamental for the quality of the milk. The raw milk pecorino from the Pistoia Mountains can be fresh, in this case it has a short seasoning, from 7 to 20 days; abbucciato: matures at least 35/40 days; or by asserbo: it can reach a year of maturation. Sheep ricotta and raveggiolo, made with locally sourced and high quality milk, are also exquisite. Pistoia’s sheep ricotta, which stands out for its particular taste, is traditionally combined with necci made with chestnut flour, another typical product of the area.
Chestnuts from the Pistoia Apennines
The Pistoia mountains produce excellent chestnuts to be tasted both boiled, from which ballotti are made, and jump over the flame, making the so-called frugiate or burnt. From the chestnuts of the Apennines, after a slow drying process, a high quality flour is obtained with which exquisite desserts are made such as chestnuts, fritters and necci, which are accompanied by the excellent Pistoia ricotta.
The fruits of the undergrowth (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries)
The splashes of color that stand out among the green expanses of the Pistoia mountains are nothing but blueberry, raspberry, strawberry and blackberry plants; juicy fruits, good to taste freshly picked or transformed into exquisite jams, fragrant syrups and flavored grappas. Among these, the blueberry represents an important resource for the abundance of productivity, for the quality of the product, known and appreciated throughout Italy and for the flexibility of its use. The blueberry, a grappa-based liqueur with bilberry juice and fruit is famous. Abetone blueberry is known throughout Tuscany for its goodness. In the summer, during the harvest period, Abetone is filled with stalls where you can buy this delicious typical Pistoia product at zero kilometer.
The Sorana Bean PGI (Slow Food Presidium)
Among the typical products of the area we find the Sorana bean which is grown in a very small area, along the banks of the Pescia Maggiore stream, between Sorana and Castelvecchio. It is very small, very light, homogeneous and slightly flattened, with a beautiful natural white color. A highly sought after product, with a thin skin and a delicate taste, enhanced by cooking in the “flask” where it preserves all its aromas and flavors intact.
The classic round shape, the crumbly and crunchy crust, its being without salt, make it the ideal accompaniment to Tuscan cuisine. Unsurpassed together with extra-virgin olive oil in the “fettunta”, necessary to make panzanella, ribollita or pappa col pomodoro.
The unsalted bread is also perfect in combination with the excellent cold cuts of the area. Typical products – made by local producers with the highest quality raw materials – include Tuscan salami, salted raw ham, finocchiona, coppa, pancetta, biroldo, cooked pork loin and Tuscan sausages. All produced by historic local butchers.
The olive oil
The olive tree is one of the typical elements of the Tuscan landscape and also of Pistoia. Extra virgin olive oil is produced through the “cold” pressing of the olives with stone millstones, which gives the product a much appreciated flavor and fragrance. Excellent as a condiment for bruschetta and vegetable dips. Admiring the landscape you will see that there are many olive groves that surround the area and that in many of these extra virgin olive oil is produced with local olives.
On the hills of Montalbano there are beautiful vineyards with whose grapes excellent red, white and rosé wines are produced. Particularly valuable is the vin santo, an excellent dessert wine. Pistoia wines are perfect in combination with typical dishes of the local gastronomy. If you have reached Pistoia by car you will see that there are many vineyards on the outskirts of the city and the area where the art of winemaking is handed down from generation to generation.
The Cialde of Montecatini
Another typical product, which represents an excellence known nationally and internationally, is the Cialda di Montecatini, a dessert whose preparation is handed down from generation to generation by the pastry chef families who still produce it today. Born in the twenties of the last century from the imagination of a family of Czechoslovakian Jews, very skilled in the art of pastry-making, the Cialda di Montecatini cannot be compared to any other product. The skilful mixing of the ingredients, all absolutely natural, the particularity and complexity of the processing, a first cooking for the pastry only and then a second with the addition of an exquisite filling of almonds and sugar, give a compact and crumbly wafer with a typical almond aftertaste. To be enjoyed with ice cream, with tea, but above all with sweet wines, such as vin santo.
The Brigidino of Lamporecchio
Another renowned confectionery specialty of the area is the Brigidino di Lamporecchio, a small golden, very thin and crunchy pastry made with eggs, flour, sugar and anise. They are said to have been invented in the mid-16th century by the nuns of Santa Brigida, a 14th-century Swedish saint who often traveled to Tuscany. The “brigidine” had the task of preparing the hosts for communions and, towards the middle of the sixteenth century, they developed the recipe for this dessert after a sister had made a mistake in preparing the dough for the hosts. Originally, tongs were used which had two circular iron plates at the ends on which decorative motifs were often engraved: stylized flowers, pinwheels or suns. After mixing the ingredients, small amounts of dough were crushed and cooked between the red-hot plates. The sweet sheets were then placed in wicker corbelli, covered with waxed paper and transported. The addition of aniseed beans led to the recipe that has been handed down to this day. Packaged in elegant cardboard boxes, the brigidini are also sold in a typical transparent bag with a narrow and elongated shape during markets, fairs and festivals, where they are instantly prepared by street vendors and can be enjoyed still hot!
The confetto from Pistoia
The “hedgehog” confetto from Pistoia, with its typical lumpy shape, is obtained with ancient processing systems: the soul of the candy rolls together with water and sugar in a large rotating copper boiler, called “bassina”, for over 8 hours . The sugared almond is then left to cool naturally on the canvas. Once upon a time only anise was placed in the center of the confetti, today the soul of the confetto can be of almonds, hazelnuts, candied orange, coriander, chocolate.
Typical products of Pistoia: where to go shopping
As you have just read, there are many products and local excellences of the Pistoia area. If you are in the city center of Pistoia you will certainly find much of what you are looking for in Piazza della Sala, Piazzetta dell’Ortaggio and in the neighboring streets. “La Sala”, as the Pistoians call it, hosts the city market and a series of “historic” shops, ice cream parlors, groceries, bars and restaurants, perfect for a break dedicated to taste and where to shop for even relatives to taste. and friends the Tuscan goodness that this wonderful territory has to offer. Some shops, confectionary factories, ice cream parlors that offer Montecatini Cialde in combination are truly ancient and represent an excellence for the area as well as a place where you can shop for quality typical Pistoia products without fail.