The Spelt of Garfagnana – Tours of Tuscany

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garfagnanaThe Spelt of Garfagnana – Tours of Tuscany

Garfagnana is a part of Tuscany in the nearabouts of Lucca. If you look at the names of its places, they seem to come from one of Tolkien’s books. Holy Island (Isola Santa), Wind Cave (Grotta del Vento), Botri Gorge (Orrido di Botri) almost have the power, only by their names, to bring up fancy stories and adventures. And why not, you could also meet elves, fairies and other magical creatures.

Garfagnana in History

Garfagnana is a wide and wild area in the mountains of the north-western Tuscany. It is situated between Emilia Romagna and the Tosco-Emiliano Apennines on the east, and the Apuan Alps on the west. While life flows with a slow rhythm, the cuisine features stories and legends. That is why Garfagnana preserves, still today, many recipes and culinary traditions from its past.

view of garfagnana

If you ask the local people, Garfagnana often means ‘spelt’, the ancestor of the wheat we today use. Spelt has an ancient history too: cultivated since 7000 BC in the Middle East and in the Mediterranean basin, in ancient Rome, it was an important part of the soldiers’ rations. Spelt suffered a crisis with the advent of durum wheat. That, in the rest of the world: not in Garfagnana!

Garfagnana and its Spelt

In this valley, spelt has been grown for thousands of years and has therefore retained its original characteristics, making it unique and distinguishable from spelt produced in other areas.

During the thousands of years it has been grown in Garfagnana, this particular kind of spelt has retained its original and nutritional characteristics. That has made it a unique spelt, if you confront it with the spelt produced in other areas.

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spelt and black cabbage soup

Spelt and black cabbage soup

Spelt is rich in fiber, light and digestible and suitable for all seasons. Try this hearty spelt and black cabbage soup.


300 g of spelt
300 g of cannellini beans (cooked weight)
1 head of cabbage great
1 carrot
1 stick of celery
1 red onion
3 tablespoons tomato puree
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 sage leaves
Extra virgin olive oil, preferably
Lucca PDO
Pepper to taste


Soak the beans the night before. Cook them in water with a sprig of rosemary and a pinch of salt until they are soft. Add water gradually if necessary. Remove half of the beans and blend the other part in their water to obtain a broth Cut up the onion, carrot and celery Let them simmer in 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil with the chopped rosemary and sage, then when they are soft (about ten minutes), add the tomato puree and cook for another 5 minutes. When ready, add the spelt (previously rinsed) and sautè for a while, then add the cabbage, without the central stalk and cut into julienne. Mix well and cover with the bean broth. Continue cooking on low heat, gradually adding the broth, for at least an hour. After this time, add the beans and cook for another 20 minutes. If the soup becomes too thick, add some vegetable broth.
Serve hot, accompanied by croutons, scented by a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.