What could be better on a warm and sunny Sunday morning in July than a trip into the hills around Barga to Pegnana. This area is often used during the autumn and winter .. after all, the Befana’s house is at Pegnana but it is also the perfect place to sit under the cool chestnut tress in the summer months. Luckily the comitato paesano in the area have been organising the annual sagra and this afternoon visitors to the Piano di Pegnana were greeted by the unmistakable aroma of meat cooking over a wood fire and something much sweeter being cooked in the background which turned out to be necci. Thunderstorms circling round the mountains managed to be kept at bay for one of those special Sunday lunches under the huge chestnut trees and then finally down came the rain and it was time once to flee back down the mountain side to Barga
Necci – the simplest of ingredients …. sweet chestnut flour, water and salt mixed into a thick paste and cooked between two hot plates over a flame. Two metal plates, the testi or cotte, are oiled and heated and the chestnut paste is poured onto one of the plates, the other is placed over the top so that the necci can be cooked from both sides. A stick to press down on the top plate and in seconds you have one of the tastiest foods in this area. Add some ricotta and you have quite simply the Food of Gods.
Roasting chestnuts in Pegnana during the autumn can be seen here