Food and wine: Genoa and Liguria launch pilot experiential tourism project
Which is the best way to safeguard local identity and traditional products? Year after year, article after article (as readers of Ligucibario know), my answer remains the same: clever, targeted promotion – I live in Liguria, a region where outstanding food&wine quality is often indirectly proportional to quantity – and awareness. Genoa itself is becoming more and more conscious of its potential as a Mediterranean capital, a first-class cultural and gourmet destination. This implies a broader concept of front line (each of us, business or individual, called to welcome visitors) and the availability of market-oriented products fit to meet the growing demand (domestic and international) for experiential tourism.
“Pesto calling”, the new gourmet project designed by tourism expert Luisa Puppo for Artès, turns these priorities into reality and offers lovers of Italian cuisine a “Genoese for a day” experience among traditions and ancient local lore. The experience (delivered by Luisa Puppo in Italian and in English) takes place in the very heart of Genoa, the sestiere di San Vincenzo, a lively district animated by specialty shops, restaurants and boutiques, not to forget about the protagonist of the project – the late-19th century Mercato Orientale, the city’s most renowned food market, a triumph of colours, scents and voices set in the former cloister of the Chiesa della Consolazione. Markets and botteghe (specialty shops) have always been excellent storytellers of places: coherently, the rules of effective storytelling supplies the structure of this tourism experience based on Genoa’s flagship fare, which challenges participants to celebrate a family reunion and reassemble Grandma Dina’s long lost recipe for pesto – i.e., find the right ingredients and proportions, the fittest mortar & pestle combination, the best wine matching and – last but not least – prepare and taste pesto. Coordinated by Luisa Puppo in the role of cousin Luisa, they carry out their task with the advice of stall holders – greengrocers, cheese mongers… – pesto manufacturers, wine and kitchenware shop owners, a food&wine expert (i.e. myself…) and passers-by. The accomplishment of their endeavour is celebrated a tavola , with a meal in an old osteria.
Planning of this pilot project was based on the participation of different private organisations – Ligucibario, the Consorzio Operatori Mercato Orientale, Ascom Confcommercio, Iscot Liguria and Artès– and the involvement of local public bodies, which enthusiastically adhere to the project, especially in terms of promotion and marketing. Gianni Berrino, the Assessore al Turismo of Regione Liguria, promoted the presentation conference of the project in April. The press officers of Agenzia di Promozione Turistica “In Liguria” are promoting the project through their networks: German travel journalist Annette Rübesamen had her pesto tour on July 26th and was personally welcomed by Paola Bordilli, the Assessore al Turismo e Commercio of the Municipality of Genoa, who is currently working at the valorisation of markets and expressed her appreciation for this pilot initiative.
Annette put herself to the test with live shopping, choosing the ingredients (basilico genovese DOP, Vessalico garlic, Pisa pine nuts, coarse sea salt, Parmigiano Reggiano DOP 24 mesi, Fiore Sardo DOP 12 mesi, extra virgin olive oil monocultivar taggiasco) with the precious guidance of stall owners Mario Enrico, Franco Trentin and pesto chef Luca Spanedda, who guided her in a solo pesto class. The Family Sola Enoteca provided advice (not to forget guided tastings) on DOC white Ligurian wine – a feast of Pigato and Vermentino. The astounding diversity of traditional regional kitchen utensils was presented by “Aimi ferramenta”, a treasure trove for food lovers. Cristina Parisi of the Ostaja-ex Guglie in via San Vincenzo planned for Annette a menu based on a selection of vegetable savoury pies, chick-pea farinata, cheese focaccia and trenette al pesto (complete with potatoes and green beans).
“Pesto Calling” features in the catalogue (https://artes2italy.com/vip-edition-pesto-calling/ ) proposed by Artès to tour operators and travel agencies.
This new project belongs to Ligucibario’s operational areas: traning (thousands hours), the drafting of the “alfabeto del gusto”, an exhaustive on line atlas of Ligurian and Mediterranean food&wine, 15 volumes on regional food and wine history, 68 videos (YouTube) and – last but not least – 250 events (conferences, guided tastings , lectures…). That is why, needless to say, I am against the use of low-quality oil in pesto and lard in focaccia.
Arrivederci, Annette and my dear readers, from Umberto Curti. These late July days are hot, yet agreeable, thanks to conviviality and cultural exchange. Best wishes from Genoa, a world talking with the world.