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Cuisine is an integral part of the Cinque Terre experience. Though it is hard to go wrong, here are five local staples that Forbes Travel Guide recommends trying:
1. Anchovies. Caught off the shores of Monterosso and served with olive oil and salt, the anchovies in Cinque Terre capture the essence of the coastline. While they are typically packed away in glass jars and sold in the villages, you can order the “bread of the sea” as a grilled or fried appetizer or as a delicious addition in your pasta.
2. Pesto. Invented in the Ligurian region, Cinque Terre’s pesto is made fresh with basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. A popular condiment eaten with the region’s handmade pasta or slathered on warm focaccia, it’s worth sampling and then making at home.
3. Torta di riso (rice pie). A century-old recipe passed down to modern-day grandmothers, the local savory rice cakes flavored with Parmesan and zucchini are a regional specialty.
4. Limoncino. This lemony liqueur — known as limoncello in the south — is a perfect after-dinner spirit made of grappa infused with lemon peels, and mixed with sugar and water. Limoncino di crema is a creamy version that’s sublime over ice.
5. Wine. Make Bacchus proud and get to know the two most famous wines from the Cinque Terre: a dry white wine (usually from vermentino, bosco or albarola grapes) called simply, Cinque Terre, and a delicate dessert wine called sciacchetrà made from grapes that have been allowed to dry in the sun, concentrating their flavor and sugar.