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The wheat threshing festival through the eyes of photographer Roman Raacke
The wheat threshing festival
Today for lunch at La Vialla, bread gnocchi with anchovies and cherry tomatoes
In La Casotta vineyard with new environmentally friendly equipment
In the vegetable patch at La Vialla today we transplant parsley
In La Vialla di Sotto olive grove for the pre-flowering inspection
Today we visit La Casotta vineyard for the green pruning
Today at La Vialla Stefania prepares a savoury tart with pesto and ricotta
Today we visit La Vialla’s young Valdarno breed chickens
Mundus Vini Biofach 2021: Video of the award ceremony
Red carpet at the Fattoria - Mundus Vini Biofach 2021 award ceremony
Graham Candy's La Vialla Music Writing Camp 2019 by Crazy Planet Records
Today at La Vialla, Carciofina croquettes for lunch
At Ca’ dell’Oro farmstead, renovating ancient terracing
The Chianti vineyard at Casa Conforto.
Today at La Vialla we make ricotta “gnudi” dressed with sage butter.
Today we’re making La Vialla’s typical pizza with pecorino
"La Vialla's Easter eggs"
Today at La Vialla’s Museum, some old farming tales from Giancarlo
“La Grillaia”, a new olive grove at La Vialla 3 years after planting
Today in La Vialla’s highest vineyard at Spedale farmstead
Today at La Vialla, Valentina’s seasonal oven baked rigatoni
Winter pruning in La Vialla’s strawberry patch
Today we’re in the olive grove at La Vialla to break up the ground
Today winter pruning in La Casotta vineyard at La Vialla
Today Erika prepares a savoury flan with Tuscan kale and new olive oil
"2020 a La Vialla"
Today at La Vialla Stefania prepares Giuliana’s sweet almond focaccia
In the olive mill at La Vialla with Andrea for a quality check
In the barn at La Vialla, the first newborn of the season
At La Vialla’s olive mill, making oil with basil
In the kitchen at La Vialla, wild boar stew with Sugo Finto
Today at La Vialla, picking olives at La Scampata farmstead
Concours Mondial de Bruxelles: October 1st 2020, the Viallini at the award ceremony in Rome
Today we pick Sangiovese grapes
Today at La Vialla Stefania prepares a savoury tart with peppers
Harvesting the Vernaccia di San Gimignano grapes at Castelvecchio
Today in Il Ronco vineyard we pick white Chardonnay grapes
"Summer 2020 at La Vialla"
Today on La Vialla’s table, Ricciole with grapes
Today in the workshop at La Vialla, “Piccantissima” sauce
In the vegetable garden at La Vialla, today we’re picking the aubergines
Today with Andrea in the olive grove at La Vialla, monitoring the trees’ health
Today at La Vialla Carmela prepares a recipe with Piccantissima sauce
Reducing copper in La Vialla’s biodynamic vineyards
Today at La Vialla we spray the “Horn Silica” biodynamic preparation
Lasagna with Basil Pesto and Pomarola
Today various tasks in La Vialla’s biodynamic vegetable patch
Reducing copper in La Vialla’s biodynamic vineyards – today with CREA
Today we use innovative equipment in La Vialla’s vineyard
Today at La Vialla, aubergine “accordions”
Today we make the horn silica biodynamic preparation or 501
Today for lunch for the Viallini, homemade gnocchi
Green pruning of the new shoots
Today we check the biodynamic compost heaps
Today at La Lignana we prepare stewed lamb in red wine
Today we build shelters to create shade
Today we are at Cortona in La Vialla’s Syrah vineyard
Savoury Tart with Ribollita and Tuscan Kale Crisps
Mundus Vini Biofach 2020: Video of the award ceremony
Mundus Vini Biofach 2020: February 13th 2020, the Viallini at the award ceremony in Nuremberg
Today we plant “aglione” in La Vialla’s vegetable patch
Today in La Vialla di Sopra olive grove doing winter tasks
Today, winter pruning on the terracing at Casa Rossa
Pasta Bake with Salsa Etrusca
Today at La Vialla, preparing and spraying biodynamic preparation '500'
Today at La Vialla, maintenance of the vineyard trellising
Vertical wine tasting of Casal Duro with expert Götz Drewitz
Today La Vialla’s Carabaccia with Vino Novo
At La Vialla’s barn and dairy during the holiday season
Zuccotto with Luigina
On the farm, Fattoria... La Vialla E-I-E-I-O
Alceo evaluates the ripeness of the olives for extra virgin olive oil
In the olive mill, calibrating the temperature while making oil
Photos of the Grape Festival
The new families of Valdarnese chickens born during the summer
Today we make cannelloni with Tuscan ragu and hazelnuts
Today we choose Sangiovese for Vin Santo “Occhio di Pernice”
Today at La Vialla, peppers filled with pasta
A 'filmino' (= little film) of the wonderful afternoon and evening in the vineyard
Photos of the Grape Festival
Today at the museum, grape roll for dessert
Last harvest in the vegetable patch for bombolino sauce without skins
Today, August 29th, we harvest grapes
Checking the olive groves
In the vegetable patch, harvesting basil for the pesto
Today Aubergine Parmigiana reinterpreted by Luigina
Celebrating the Haystack
La Vialla Song & Music Writing Camp by Crazy Planet Records
10 Musicians at the Fattoria: Concert and Writing Camp October 2018
An anthem for La Vialla
Today Panzanella, a traditional all-in-one meal with what’s in the vegetable patch
Today in the vegetable patch we plant the last crop, the hot chilli peppers
Today we evaluate the young fruit in the vineyard and olive grove
Today we make timbale with zucchini and Rosalina
The vineyard at La Casotta, experimenting half the amount of copper
Today we plant vegetables in the field behind Casa Conforto
Green pruning at La Casotta farmstead
After six months the biodynamic preparation is dug up
Strawberry Mousse Cake
Award ceremony at the Grand International Wine Award @ProWein, Dusseldorf (Germany), March 17th 2019
At the Museum in the Landowner’s Room
In the dairy, from curds to drying-out
Today in the vineyard at Spedale using an innovative tying method
Today spring roulades with asparagus
Today in the olive grove two types of pruning for olive trees
In the barrique cellar the barrels are filled with 2018’s wines
Maintenance at Casale Farmstead
Nothing is thrown away from the kitchen - La Ribollita
At the Museum, in the grandparents bedroom
Mundus Vini Biofach 2019: Video of the award ceremony
The Viallini at the Mundus Vini Biofach 2019 Producer of the Year International and Best Sweet Wine
Soil assessment with the Spade test
Two kinds of pruning at Casa Conforto
Today Strozzapreti with Tuscan Kale Pesto
What’s on the menu today at La Lignana?
Hamburg Aimate Week 2018-Speech by Gianni and Antonio Lo Franco
Summer 2018 at the Fattoria
A surpride for Marco, the aenologist: the 100/100 score awarded by the panel chair judge at the IWSC 2018
The grand table celebrating 40 years of La Vialla, 1978-2018
Spring greetings from the farm
Award ceremony for "Producer of the Year 2018" at the Mundus Vini Biofach, Nuremberg
The Vino Nuovo and Olio Novo have arrived!
La Vialla's Christmas Menu
Video: In the bajery, Francesco prepares the Viallina Biscuit House
IWSC London 2017: Video of the award ceremony
Recipe: La Vialla made of Cantucci bricks and Stracci tiles
Autumn has arrived at the Fattoria
IWSC London 2017: Video of the award ceremony
Video of the ceremony and laudation
B.A.U.M. Environmental Award 2017, Frankfurt am Main
Francesco prepares the Easter dive-shaped cake
Video of the ceremony and laudation
Small photo album 2016: Moments from a year at the Fattoria
Mundus Vini Biofach 2017: The Viallini at the Award Ceremony
"Slightly" out tune but from the heart ...Merry Christmas from the whole "Banda" of La Vialla
The Panettone à la Francesco
Fattoria La Vialla is "Italian Wine Producer of the Year 2016" at the International Wine & Spirit Competition, London
Official viceo of the IWSC awarda banquet, November 16th, 2016, London
End of October: harvest and lunch with friends in the Ca' dell'Oro alive grove!
A great celebration in the vineyard at casotta farmstead
September 28th 2016: La Vialla in the Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg
"May in the strawberry patch: harvest and happy hour with the guests"
A "Little Big" keepsake of the concert held on july 8th 2015
"Mundus Vini Biofach 2016: The Viallini at the Award Ceremony" (video by Felicitas Umlauf)
"Vin Santo: from grapes to Grand Gold at the Mundus Vini Biofach 2016"
Francesco's chocolate salami
A star in the sky at La Vialla Grape Festival 2015 (Video by Felicitas Umlauf)
Celebrations for "40 years of La Vialla" at the Fattoria
News from the Fattoria
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La Vialla and nature
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Recipe archive



Pasta, sauces and...

Pici with Aglione, Spaghetti with tomato sauce, Fusilli with Pesto, Pappardelle with Ragu, Rigatoni “Cacio e Pepe”, Pappa al Pomodoro... names that, as soon as you think of them, make your mouth water. Typical Tuscan dishes that are known worldwide, part of Italy’s culinary heritage. Here at the Fattoria, the cooks (affectionately known as “Viallini”) prepare food according to the season, month after month, with the produce from the vegetable patch. The homemade pasta, initially “handmade” by rolling out a huge sheet of pasta, is now produced with cereals grown in our fields using organic and biodynamic agriculture, which are then ground into semolina flour using artisan methods and sent, to be drawn, to a small pasta factory in Abruzzo. Pasta with vegetables, cooked by the Viallini housekeepers to create typical sauces (and also put into jars), are a first course to serve for your family as well as to visiting friends and guests.

pasta and sauces

Fattoria La Vialla’s Pasta

La Vialla’s pasta is made with organic cereals, rich in flavour, grown at the Fattoria. To discover, in detail, how it’s made, we need to take a look inside the Pasta Factory. Just two ingredients, flour and water. A simple process, but with many variables that have to be interpreted: temperature, humidity, quality and variety of the raw materials. Pasta making is an art; its secrets are learnt through a long apprenticeship, and usually handed down from one generation to the next. But when was pasta invented? In our part of the world, the Etruscans and Ancient Romans were already making a forerunner of pasta, a sort of lasagna called “lagana”. It was made of thin sheets of pasta – flour and water – filled with meat and cooked in the oven. An ancient “pasta bake”!

At Cerveteri, in an Etruscan tomb (4th century B.C.), utensils used to make pasta have been found: rolling pin, pastry board, a bag with a filter for sprinkling flour, knives, spoons and even a little wheel used to cut the pasta and form wavy edges. Centuries of history have given Italian pasta many different shapes and machines that help man in the task of producing it. But fundamentally it remains the same: flour and water. And the procedure for making it is practically the same as that used at home to make fresh pasta, with or without eggs, but always with lots of... elbow grease.

Handmade Pici
Handmade Pici

How La Vialla’s pasta is made

Durum wheat semolina is mixed (the word pasta comes from the Italian verb “impastare”, which means to mix or knead) with 25-30% of water to form gluten and hydrate the starch. After a brief period of mixing and kneading, when the right consistency is obtained (a decision taken by the master pasta maker), the dough is drawn through extruder dies, strictly made of bronze. The opening in the dies and the cutting frequency determine the pasta shape, long or short, from Spaghetti to Fusilli. (The use of bronze for the dies is important for the pasta’s porosity and how it “picks up” the sauces it’s served with). Now all it needs is a period of slow drying out to reach the final degree of humidity, 12.5%, which allows the pasta to be preserved for a long time, without preservatives and without putting it in the fridge.

Spaghetti alla Chitarra made with bronze dies
Spaghetti alla Chitarra made with bronze dies

For La Vialla’s high quality pasta we have chosen a particularly long drying out time, between 44 and 48 hours, at approximately 35-37 °C. It’s a simple procedure, without any substances added and without using high temperatures. The goodness of the pasta comes directly from its ingredients, of which it preserves – intact – the nutritional properties, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and mineral salts. This is why, as we will see further on, the quality of the cereals used to make the semolina is so important, as well as the soil in which the wheat grows. Without forgetting the scrupulous monitoring of the water’s purity and properties.

Tagliatelle sprinkled with rustic flour
Tagliatelle sprinkled with rustic flour
Fragrant durum wheat semolina
Fragrant durum wheat semolina

What flour is used to make the pasta?

The difference between our flour and semolina basically lies in the cereal from which they are made: the semolina comes from durum wheat, it has a coarser consistency, higher protein content and is a yellowish colour; while our flour is made with soft wheat and is finer, with a typical ivory-white colour.

How the cereals are grown at the Fattoria

In order to respect natural land rotation and improve soil fertility, at Fattoria La Vialla we grow many different cereals: several varieties of durum wheat, amongst which some ancient ones (Simeto, Ciccio, San Carlo), spelt, a cereal that has remained practically unchanged since Roman times, and barley. We sow various varieties of the latter, to use for the sheep and to make pasta. The biodiversity of species is of fundamental importance. The varieties of wheat, mixed and sown together, with stems and roots of different lengths and different growth habits, which reach different layers of soil at different depths, with a beneficial, symbiotic effect (between the roots and soil microorganisms) on the life in the ground. A natural (and simple!) way of improving fertility. Organic agriculture prohibits the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers; it imposes strict rules regarding the choice of seeds, excluding genetically modified organisms (GMOs); it also regulates the choice of varieties through the national seed database (the varieties selected are those most suitable for this natural type of agriculture, in which the plant has to defend itself against pests). Crop rotation is of fundamental importance, alternating not only different types of cereals but also periods of rest (when the land “lies fallow”) and a third year in which legumes are grown. Just like in days gone by! The Fattoria’s biodynamic compost is also spread on the fields – once more in rotation – while the biodynamic preparations are sprayed regularly in spring and autumn. The natural fertility of the soil and the choice of hardy varieties, are the key to the quality of the wheat, and consequently of the flour and semolina. In nature, all plants produce antioxidant substances to protect themselves against fungi and harmful bacteria; the stronger the cereal is and the greater its self-defence capacity, the easier it is metabolised naturally. This leads to high content of aromas and antioxidant substances in the grains of cereal, and therefore in the flour and the pasta made from it.

The field with ancient durum wheat varieties
The field with ancient durum wheat varieties

Fattoria La Vialla’s pasta shapes

Year after year, the “Viallini” have acquired a taste for trying out different recipes and shapes. Thanks to this we now have a good assortment, from Spaghetti, Linguine, Tubettini, Rigatoni, Penne, Tagliatelle, Pici, Pappardelle all’uovo.

types of pasta
"stone

Stoneground cereals – what exactly are they?

Some of our wheat is stoneground to produce stoneground Durum wheat pasta. The semolina for this type of pasta is made by grinding the wheat with natural, quarried, millstones; they work slowly, without letting anything overheat (as normally happens in “modern” processes with steel machinery). In this way the better part of the bran – at least the finer part – remains in the semolina, bringing with it the wheat germ and the aleurone layer, full of valuable nutrients: proteins and vitamins (tocopherols), calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron and essential microelements, polyunsaturated fatty acids and fibre. The flavour of pasta made with stoneground semolina recalls the aroma of freshly baked bread and, at the same time, fresh grains of wheat.
Thinking of our children, we decided to also produce pasta for children, similar to the larger shapes but in miniature.

The ancient stone-grinding mill at La Vialla
The ancient stone-grinding mill at La Vialla

Spelt pasta is the wholegrain pasta “par excellence”; the flour is obtained from the grain purely by stone-grinding, after the husks have been removed from the seeds. The pasta’s typical brown colour indicates its rich content of fibre, minerals and group B vitamins. Spelt (Triticum spelta) is a robust cereal, suitable for growing on hillsides and difficult ground. It’s rich in protein (15 g per 100 g) and contains an essential amino acid that other types of cereal don’t have – methionine, which is involved in the synthesis of phospholipids in the body.

Tip on how to cook pasta perfectly

To cook pasta use a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan (for uniform heat).

For every 100 g of pasta, 1 litre of water and 10 g of coarse salt are needed: these are the ideal quantities, but they can be modified according to your saucepan and taste! The important thing is to follow a few, simple rules.

Bring the water to the boil, add the salt and then add the pasta. Put the lid on the pan immediately, to bring it back to the boil quickly. Remove the lid as soon as it boils, stir the pasta with a spoon (if possible wooden) and leave to cook, without the lid on, over a high heat. As soon as the pasta is cooked (the cooking time is given on the packaging, if not, taste it) drain it quickly in a colander, which you have ready at hand. Pour it into a large bowl (it’s a good idea to warm it beforehand with some boiling water) or into the frying pan with the sauce you have already heated (if you want to “toss” the pasta in the pan, strain it 1 or 2 minutes before cooking time is over).

pot boiling
salt the water
put the pasta to cook
drain pasta

The Sauces

In the dialect of her origins (she was from Piedmont), Nonna Caterina, grandmother of the Lo Franco family, often used to say: “metti bòn, cava bòn” (= put good in, get good out). Nothing could be more true in the kitchen. And there’s no better source of ingredients than a vegetable patch that’s well looked after and biodynamic. Picking tomatoes and preparing tomato sauce with a few basil leaves – nothing is simpler and more delicious!

About La Vialla’s vegetable patch

The Fattoria’s vegetable patch, which has gradually got bigger as the “family” has grown, is now a real “hothouse” of biodiversity. There’s something for all seasons: Tuscan kale, garlic, “aglione”, purple artichokes, green asparagus, zucchini, Bombolini tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes, round tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, onions, potatoes, strawberries, blackberries, figs, etc. In spring, dotted with various colours and flowers, it’s a sight to be seen.

Fattoria La Vialla’s vegetable patch is cultivated according to the rules of biodynamic agriculture (certified by Demeter) aimed at creating long-lasting soil fertility. Alceo, Donato, Carlo and Andrea, the “Viallino” biodynamics specialists, instruct the rest of the work team, teaching techniques and providing updates. Crop rotation is essential in order to naturally avoid weeds and let the ground rest. For example we don’t grow tomatoes in the same spot for more than two years in a row; after which we leave it to rest for a year and the following year we sow legumes. Biodynamic compost (made of vegetable waste from the production processes, mixed with manure from the sheep) is spread over the ground periodically to supply the field with new organic matter. Biodynamic preparations are sprayed in spring and autumn, to encourage the formation of humus. We follow the lunar calendar for sowing and transplanting and, as much as possible, also for harvesting times. The use of copper, for protection, is limited solely to cases in which it is necessary (after informing the supervisory body!).

Picking tomatoes by hand
Picking tomatoes by hand

Organic certification imposes the use of GMO free varieties, selected for organic agriculture. This means that the varieties planted are the result of years of research, comparative testing and selection with an eye to quality, strength, hardiness and reproducibility. Cultivating these varieties means producing fruit and vegetables that contain more antioxidants and aromas, seeing that these elements serve for the plants’ defence.

Bombolini tomatoes – full of flavour and healthy
Bombolini tomatoes – full of flavour and healthy

La Vialla’s sauces

The fruit and vegetables from the vegetable patch are both mother to and daughter of the recipes. As often occurs in the countryside, we have also planted things because we had seen them somewhere; other times, testing a recipe that turned out well, aroused our interest to plant a certain vegetable. Here at the Fattoria, the best loved ingredient is the tomato. Suitable for the most varied preparations and combinations, in sauces to spread on bread or use with pasta – and it couldn’t be any other way, being typical Italians. In summer no table can be without a dish of spaghetti with tomato “salsa”, on its own or with the addition of some fresh basil, or other herbs or spices (olives, capers or other vegetables from the vegetable patch).

The path from field to kitchen is short
The path from field to kitchen is short

The main ingredient of the sauces – the tomato

Tomatoes belong to the Solanaceae family. Originating in South America, nowadays they are grown throughout the Mediterranean, because they adapt well to temperate climates. They are greatly appreciated for their intense flavour, pronounced freshness, culinary versatility and nutritional properties. They are low in calories but high in mineral salts – amongst which potassium and phosphorous – and calcium, vitamin C and polyphenols (including lycopene, which is responsible for the typical red colour), contained in their water. Tomatoes are known for their antioxidant, cardio protective and toning properties. Here at the Fattoria they are planted in May and harvested from July to September.

Three of the most popular sauces
Three of the most popular sauces

How La Vialla’s sauces are made

La Vialla's sauces are prepared in the "Pentoloni magici", as the cooks have christened them. They are like huge saucepans made of stainless steel and can hold 70-120 kg of produce. Their robust lids are attached to a suction pump that creates a vacuum inside. As the pressure is lowered, the boiling point for liquids is gradually reduced. All the recipes (not only the sauces, but the jams, marmalade and mousses too) are cooked at a low temperature and for as short a cooking time as possible, so as to maintain their nutritional properties and freshness of flavours. Above all, this is how we avoid the characteristic "cooked" taste that is, usually, so obvious in sauces with traditional long cooking times. But the most important thing is that the sauces are cooked just a few hours after the vegetables are harvested, strictly at the right degree of ripeness.

“Vialline” in the sauce kitchen
“Vialline” in the sauce kitchen

At the Fattoria, the vegetable patch and “sugificio” (= sauce kitchen) are only a few hundred metres apart and the industrious “Viallini” take care of coordinating harvesting and production, day by day, without waste and without leftovers. Skins, parts that can’t be used, leaves and any bits to be thrown away, are collected up and taken to the biodynamic compost heap every day.

Over the years, various classic traditional Tuscan recipes have been put into our jars, which are prepared when the vegetables ripen in the fields. From the spicy, fragrant sauce made with the little “Bombolino” tomatoes, to the succulent sauces with aubergines or bell peppers, the tasty Pomarola, the flavoursome Tomato, Olive and Caper sauce, the aromatic Sugo all’Aglione and the tempting Sugo alla Amatriciana. Others are made without cooking, such as various types of pesto – green, with basil, red, with sun-dried tomatoes or with “finocchietto” (= wild fennel). Others, like the Parmigianina, Tuscan Style Ragu and Rosalina (with ricotta and tomato) come from more complex recipes.

A “spaghettata” in the olive grove
A “spaghettata” in the olive grove

Tips for the Fattoria’s pasta sauces

Fusilli mit Poverella
Fusilli with Poverella
Pici mit Pesto
Pici with Pesto
Rigatoni mit Ragù
Rigatoni with Ragù
  • How to heat La Vialla’s sauces – In order not to alter the contents of the sauces, the best thing to do is to place the closed jars in a “bain-marie” of hot water, for at least 10 minutes. NB: pesto is an uncooked sauce and it is best not to heat it.
  • How to dress pasta with La Vialla's sauces – Put the hot sauce (for the various kinds of pesto, room temperature is sufficient) in a serving bowl and add the strained pasta. Mix them together, if you like, with a few spoonfuls of grated cheese and a little extra virgin olive oil. You can also pour the contents of the jar into a frying pan and “toss” it together with the pasta without heating it too much. For those who like creamier sauces – we recommend this in particular for thicker sauces, such as the various kinds of pesto – you can add one or two (according to taste) spoonfuls of the water the pasta was cooked in.
    Special mention must go to the “Pomodori Pelati” (= peeled tomatoes) for their versatility: excellent substitutes for fresh tomatoes out of season because they preserve the feel of summer in their colour and flavour; they’re perfect for making sauces, starting with chopped, sautéed onion and garlic, then adding vegetables and spices of your choice; also excellent for a “raw” sauce, by simply blending the contents of a jar and adding salt, olive oil or other ingredients you have available.
The pasta is ready!
The pasta is ready!

The Appetizers

For lunches at the Fattoria (or at home with the family) aperitifs and “antipasti” have always met with great success. And seeing that... “well begun is half done”, and the wisdom of proverbs is well known, so why not do as one is told? This weakness, or shall we say this passion, is reflected in the array of antipasti that enriches La Vialla’s already vast and colourful “menu”. Traditional, tempting recipes “unearthed” by mothers and grandmothers who were happy to contribute (Orange Olives, Artichokes in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Cherry Tomatoes in brine), typical Tuscan recipes (Chicken Liver Sauce for “crostini neri”, Poverella) and special “Viallino” recipes (Peperonata Dolce, Carciofina, Asparagina, Cipollina).

And they all have important characteristics in common: organic-biodynamic ingredients from the seasons’ harvests, cooked and prepared immediately in the “Pentoloni” (large pans that safeguard flavour, aroma and nutritional properties), put into jars and pasteurised at a low temperature. They are sauces to be spread on “bruschettas” (toasted slices of bread), used to top pizza or in a “frittata” (Green Sauce, Olive Pâté, Peperotta). There are also vegetables preserved in oil (strictly made with extra virgin olive oil!); artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and olives, perfect for preparing a tempting mixed “antipasti”.