5 Must-Eat Foods in Italy's Cinque Terre

must try food's in Italy's Cinque Terre

5 Must Try Dishes in Italy's Cinque Terre
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5 Must-Eat Foods in Italy's Cinque Terre

A confection of candy-colored houses and stone-walled vineyards dominate the five villages of Italy's Cinque Terre, or five lands. Clinging to steep cliffs overlooking the Ligurian Sea, the towns of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia (pictured), Manarola and Riomaggiore connect by train and miles of trails clogged by both hearty backpackers and rookie day trekkers. And the same rugged landscape that attracts train-riding tourists and hikers imparts the region with unique flavors. From anchovies to pesto, here are five foods to savor along the Cinque Terre.

Fried, stuffed with garlic, served with a light lemon dressing and atop pastas and pizzas. Anchovies, referred to as the bread of the sea by locals, are ubiquitous in the Cinque Terre. In the late spring and early summer, fishermen head off the coast of Monterosso at night, shine a large light into the sea to attract the anchovies and scoop them up before they are processed by hand.

Many restaurants, like Ristorante Miky in Monterosso, dish up an appetizer of anchovies prepared in a variety of ways. Others, like Taverna Del Capitano in Vernazza serve them as part of a larger antipasti di mare, a mixed plate of seafood.

The strong currents and rich algae of the Ligurian Sea result in incredibly tasty fish and seafood. Whether it's grilled calamari; cappon magro, a salad-like dish that layers fish, seafood, olives and eggs; or the mussels stewed, stuffed or baked, you can't go wrong. Mussels in a light tomato sauce, stuffed with breadcrumbs, garlic and parmesan are a favorite. While most restaurants serve mussels, it's worth a trip to Locanda Lorena, on a private island off of Porto Venero, for a taste of theirs.

Liguria, Italy is the birthplace of pesto alla genovese, the bright, green sauce made with basil, garlic, olive oil and cheese, and today, it is D.O.P.-protected so that only pesto made with basil grown in the region and made in a certain way can be called pesto alla genovese.

Most restaurants serve several pesto dishes, though almost all offer it with trofie, a regional pasta made from chestnut or wheat flour, and tagliatelle, a flat, broad pasta. Both are meant to hold the sauce well. In Corniglia, try the tagliatelle with pesto at La Posada, which has a large garden with views of the seas and Manarola.

As with much of Italy, gelaterias are commonplace. But climb the almost 400 stairs from the train station in Corniglia to the main square and wander down a narrow alley to Un Mare di Yogurt, a gelateria that scoops up a flavor called Miele di Corniglia, a light and creamy gelato made from local honey.

Vineyards and olive groves cling to terraced landscapes throughout the Cinque Terre, which is known for two specialty wines: a dry white known simply as Cinque Terre white and sciacchetra, a sweet, late-harvest dessert wine made from dried grapes. The gold-colored wine with a slight raisin taste is typically served as it is at Ristorante Miky, with biscotti, as an after-dinner drink.

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