I think you already know: when food meets travel I feel like being in the right place.
And for travel I don’t mean visiting a far and exotic country for weeks, but it could be a day spent just a few km far from where I live.
When an experience is authentic and it brings me into contact with a territory, its people and its food, I feel I have traveled even though if just for one day.
On Sunday the 20th of May I spent one of these days, attending for the first time Mangialonga in Levanto.
Mangialonga is an event at its 23rd edition in Levanto, where you have to walk about 14 km through the villages and hills behind Levanto. At every leg, which is represented by a village, you will find a typical Ligurian dish to taste (and a glass of local wine).
The walking is partially easy and partially more tiring on specific paths, but the view and the atmosphere will worth the effort.
To let you better understand what I saw and ate at Mangialonga 2018, I recall each leg of the whole trail.
Sage focaccia – Fossato
The first leg was also the easiest. This path is completely on a paved street but you’re already surrounded by the greenish nature of Levanto hills.
In Fossato we had a taste of a sage focaccia. The style of focaccia is the genoese one (of course), oily and with the classical dimples. I have never tasted this version with sage, but I appreciate the balsamic aftertaste. That’s a good start!
Torta di verdure – Lizza
The second leg was harder, being on an unpaved hill. At our arrival in Lizza we have been rewarded with a delicious and nourishing torta di verdure, a savoury pie made with pasta matta – a simple dough made with flour, water, evoo and salt – and stuffed with herbs, ricotta, parmesan and black pepper. The perfect dish to stock up some energies after the first sweat of the day!
Minestrone genovese – Lavaggiorosso
The day is sunny and lovely, but that means that the unshaded trails are also the hardest ones. Before arriving in Lavaggiorosso we stop at an historic mill where we get a slice of a scrumptious farinata di ceci (the famous Ligurian chickpea flatbread). After a walk uphill under the sun, following the music we reach Lavaggiorosso. In the square in front of the church, there’s a live band who’s playing music, while locals are serving generous portions of minestrone genovese, a soup made with mixed vegetables and a spoon of fresh pesto.
Eating soups with warm weather reminds me of Asia, especially Singapore, where the tropical temperatures do not prevent people to daily eat each kind of soups. Actually, even if it’s not so inviting, eating or drinking something warm makes us sweat more and therefore it lowers our body temperature.
In Laviaggiorosso we also enter at alla Cantina du Beppe, where the owner Beppe welcomes us and offers delicious bruschette with anchovies or with simple evoo (also called merenda della nonna, “grandma’s merenda”).
Lupin beans in Groppo and coniglio ligure (Ligurian rabbit) in Dosso
The two following legs are Groppo, where we have been served a kind of aperitivo with lupin beans and refreshing spuma bionda, a non–alcoholic drink very popular in this part of Italy (if you have never tasted it, you should really give it a try. I love it!)
Along the path we can’t help but taking some photos of the beautiful views of Levanto and its bay.
Arrived in Dosso, we get the only meat dish of the day: a generous coniglio ligure, rabbit slowly cooked with olives and pine nuts. Many people don’t eat rabbit, but in Italy, especially in the Northern and Central area, it’s a popular dish.
Brandacujun – Casella
We have already passed the halfway and we start feeling full and stisfied, but in Casella there’s a slice of bread with a truly delicious brandacujun. It is a Ligurian dish made with salted cod fish whipped together with patatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and fresh parsley. If you want to learnt its story and recipe, I wrote a post about brandacujun. It’s so so good!
Pan fritto and stracchino cheese– Montale
Montale is one of the village you bump into when you drive from the highway to Levanto. Following the music, we reach the main square where lots of people are dancing and having fun. Here we get a truly amazing pan fritto with stracchino cheese. Pan fritto is a dish typical in many parts of central Italy also known with other names.
This version was a bit different with the ones I usually eat: pan fritto was dry and crunchy outside and completely empty inside. The flavour was amazing and it was the perfect fit for some stracchino cheese.
Apple fritters – Le Ghiare
We are getting closer to the end of Mangialonga and we continue along the path, completely surrounded by nature. At Le Ghiare we have been welcomed by cheerful volunteers serving delicious apple fritters.
Gelato – Piazza Staglieno
The finish line is in Levanto center, and there all participants that complete the path would get a refreshing gelato. Unfortunately I had to catch the train to come back home.
Thanks Mangialonga, thanks Levanto! See you next time.
This post is also available in: Italian