I came to this dish very late, which is a surprise since it is one of the classic dishes of Venetian cuisine, and a pity since I have been missing it all my life. From just before my teenage years until adulthood, I wouldn’t touch fish on principle since I knew I didn’t like it, despite evidence to the contrary. For example, I remember at the age of about ten being fed what my parents told me was prosciutto di parma. It was delicious, but turned out to be smoked salmon.
Located only 27km as the crow flies from Venice, Treviso has always lived in the shadow of the campanile of San Marco. For most of its life, that was a good thing. Its proximity to the capital of the great Venetian Republic meant that the government ringed it with a great defensive wall and moat which made the city impregnable. The wall is still there today and can be walked almost in its entirety.
Tramezzino, the diminutive of ‘in the middle’ is the Italian word for sandwich. Said to have been coined by the early-twentieth-century poet Gabriele d’Annunzio, the word is used to refer to sandwiches made with white pancarré bread, again said to have been invented in the Bar Mulassano in Turin. Notwithstanding their Piemontese origin, the most famous tramezzini are those made in the city of Venice.
In 1439, a council of the Greek and Roman churches was called at Florence. According to legend, during the meeting, the Bishop of Florence proudly served his local communion wine to one of the Greek bishops who proclaimed, ‘What lovely wine! It’s xantho! (yellow)’. The Florentines, mishearing the greek adjective as santo (holy), took this as a pronouncement of quality rather than colour, and the wine has been known as vin santo ever since.
Five-hundred and fifty odd years since the first Renaissance, Italy is in the grip of another. This time, the rebirth is in the wine industry where, particularly here in Tuscany, producers are rediscovering old grapes and old techniques to produce some truly amazing bottles.
Couple this movement with a younger generation of passionate and talented vignerons and you have a marriage made in the vineyard. Finally, after many years of relative disappointment, Tuscany’s unique and ideal terroir and climate are being exploited to their best potential.
Nothing says Tuscan summer quite as much as a glass of limoncello. In restaurants in an around our village, it’s customary for the waiter to leave an ice-cold bottle, adorned with Swarovski crystals of condensation, on the table with your after-dinner coffee. If you’re lucky, the restaurant may serve home made limoncello, recognizable by its opaque colour, and normally much higher in alcohol content than commercially available brands.