The beautiful historical city of Lucca is one of Italy’s architectural jewels, with its charming center surrounded by ancient walls, and a renowned artistic and gastronomic destination. This month, the city’s famous Lucca Summer Festival features Bob Dylan and Elton John among others.
In the beautiful Loggiato Pretorio, a Renaissance arcade in the very heart of the city, Fausto Borella, the creator of the annual Extra Lucca event, decided to replicate it during the summer with a two-week program full of oil tastings, meetings, presentations and more.
Every day from July 1 to 15, locals and visitors have the chance to discover and taste a number of excellent olive oils from all over Italy and to learn how to tell the difference between them through comparative tastings.
Twice a day, at 12 PM and 5 PM, the region’s famous oils are paired with some of the best local and Italian food products such as breads, fresh pastas, pizzas, legumes and meats.
Each Wednesday a cooking demonstration will show people how to appreciate extra virgin olive oil at its best.
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On July 1, the celebrity chef Giorgio Barchiesi, known as Giorgione, a popular representative of traditional Italian cuisine, prepared a selection of vegetarian salads seasoned with high-quality olive oils, while on the 8th the Tuscan butcher Michelangelo Masoni will present high-quality meats combined with olive oils and a special sausage created for the occasion.
On the 15th, it will be up to the local chefs’ association Enjoy Lucca (led by Samuele Cosentino, Giuliano and Corrado Pacini and Lorenzo Stefanini) to close the event preparing traditional Tuscan foods paired with extra virgin olive oils.
Another staple of Italy’s cooking tradition at the Extra Lucca Summer Edition are the “sfogline,” the ladies rolling out fresh pasta by hand just every Italian housewife used to.
Sweet teeth will be satisfied, too: local pastry chef Sara Bianchi prepares delicious cookies made with Dievole’s fantastic extra virgin olive oil instead of butter, while the renowned ice cream parlor from Pisa, ‘De Coltelli, proposes a tasty olive oil ice cream made with the excellent oils by Fattoria di Fubbiano and TuttoTonda, both awarded with a “Crown” in the Maestrod’olio 2015 guide edited by Borella.
The Extra Lucca Summer Edition, according to its organizers, is also a temporary store for real food where people can buy good, guaranteed extra virgin olive oils made by Italy’s best producers. “It has been an incredible success, we already had to reorder the products twice,” Borella said. “It’s very simple: we let people taste a “commercial” olive oil first, then seven or eight quality extra virgin olive oils, and that’s it. The go back home with at least a couple of bottles each.”