What a day!! We kicked off our first full day of the tour with both cultural and culinary excursions. This morning we went a bit up the coast to the small seaside town of Pizzo to stop at one of our favorite hidden spots – La Chiesetta di Piedigrotta. Tucked beneath the main road, this small cave chapel is all but invisible to those passing through town. The cave and all of its sculptures are carved entirely of tufa stone, with the only light coming from overhead crevices and reflection from the sea just outside the door. The effect is other-worldly, and you can’t get enough of the views.
Today’s lunch once again took advantage of our proximity to the sea, and our promised ‘light lunch’ was quite the seafood feast! Mussels, clams, octopus, squid and some amazing homemade pasta. As one traveler put it, “This might be…..THE best……pasta…….I’ve ever had.” A stop in a nearby port town for ‘un caffe’ and sweets, and then we started making our way up the winding mountain roads to Spilinga.
It’s safe to say that our favorite delicacy to introduce to travelers on the spring trip is the Calabrian ‘nduja (en-doo-ya). This spicy, spreadable salami gets its fiery taste from roasted Calabrian chili peppers, and is like nothing you’ve ever tried before. Just the smell makes our mouths water! Our new friends from the local consortium in Spilinga set us up with an amazing afternoon visiting a local producer. There are only SIX official producers of this unique product, which is made with pork (pancetta trimmings), the Calabrese pepper and salt, then smoked and aged. The charming family who owns the farm, along with our guide Giuseppe from the consortium, took great pride in sharing their artisan process with us.
Our day didn’t end there, of course! Our guides then lead us outside of town to an agriturismo, tucked away overlooking the fields surrounding Spilinga. Our feast (you’ll start to notice this word coming up a lot…..did we mention this is a culinary tour??) started with a plate including bocconcini, ricotta di pecora, bruschetta, zeppole, frittata, grilled vegetables, local salame….and that was just the antipasti! This was followed by TWO types of pasta delivered on heaping platters, and then grilled local meats with potatoes. Nduja was of course also featured prominently throughout the meal. Dinner was finished off with a “digestivo” – in this case a house-made Amaro – which, as its name suggests, serves to aid in digesting the many courses a meal in Italy often includes, as a finale It’s quite possible we could have just rolled back down the hill to Tropea!
It was a full day on all accounts, so tomorrow will be more piano before we depart for Sicily on Sunday. Ciao!