Meet Heather from Casabasciana

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Heather Jarman lives in Casabasciana, one of the gorgeous mountain villages of Bagni di Lucca. In her career as an archeologist she researched the early history of agriculture. She is passionately interested in food, from growing and production to cooking and eating.

Her knowledge of food production in the Bagni di Lucca and Garfagnana is amazing. I first met her last year when she took me along to meet a local cheese maker. We set off into the mountains and met the delightful Marzia who spent the morning showing us how to make cheese and ricotta. Click here for the full story.

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On another adventure we went high in the mountains to a village called Lupinaia for their chestnut festival. It was one of the most delightful afternoons I have ever had, topped off with a walk back to the car along an old mule trail.

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Click here to see more of the very beautiful Lupinaia.

This year we headed off to the Slow Food soup finals in Lucca and got to try some delicious soup and listen to some great folk music. Click here to see more.

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I have learned how to make bread using traditional methods in a wood fired oven with Paolo after visiting his gorgeous farm in the Garfagnana. He grows farro and breeds beautiful cattle. Click here to see the gorgeous cows.

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That’s Paolo blessing the bread as it goes in the oven.

I went with Heather to the huntsmen’s dinner in Casabasciana, where we helped the hunters eat the cinghiale (wild boar) they had caught during the season. Both the food and the company were wonderful after we had worked up our appetites with a walk around the beautiful village at sunset.

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Click here to see more of Casabasciana.

We went to the Lucca Wine and Food festival and met lots of local wine makers.

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And we ate some wonderful local food. Click here to see more.

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Quite possibly best of all she introduced me to the delightful concerts in Lucca organised by Mattia. I became a regular visitor on Tuesday and Friday nights. Click here to find out more, or check the website http://iconcertidegliangeli.com

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There is a never ending list of things to do in Bagni di Lucca and the nearby areas…..and Heather knows all about them. She organises tours for small groups to do things you would never find in a guide book. In her own words she is “Making tourism work to sustain the rural economy and the people. …you will encounter an endangered lifestyle which we don’t want to disappear.”

Visit her website for more information…..www.sapori-e-saperi.com

Dinner with the huntsmen of Casabasciana

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The name Casabasciana probably comes from the Roman settler called Bassius, who built his house here. The town is perched on the side of the hill about 4 kilometres up from Fabbriche di Casabasciana on the SS12.
My friend and I were invited by Heather Jarman from Sapori e Saperi to join the dinner put on by the Squadra di Cacciatori , the hunting team from Casabasciana, an offer too good to refuse, especially since the proceeds of the evening are to be used to renovate a building in town to provide help for some of the older residents.
We went up to the village in the late afternoon to discover the delights of Casabasciana.
The streets of the village are narrow, winding and steep.

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There are lots of lovely old buildings to see.

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I spotted a small statue of the Madonna in an alcove opposite the main church.

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She was standing on an interesting base.

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We wandered to the outskirts of the town where the buildings end and some of the farming area still exists.

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We met Giovanni with his tractor loaded with wood.

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He has lived all his life in Casabasciana and proudly showed us the house that belonged to his grandfather which he has renovated for his daughter.

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He keeps a very neat wood pile.

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Spring is coming to Casabasciana.

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We met Heather who showed us some of the things we missed.

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The communal washing area, which is still used.

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Her garden shed.

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Another little shrine.

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Beautiful building decoration.

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The oldest, and apparently the best water supply.

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The lovely little church beyond the village.

The fresco inside the old church.

We were on the edge of town to see the sunset.

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We went to the main square which looked beautiful at night.

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The town is tiny, but it has a bar and an excellent shop which stocks everything.

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We had a cup of tea in Heather’s lovely kitchen.

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Her house has lots of gorgeous rooms.

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Finally it was time for dinner.

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Tommaso and Anna Rosa serving the crostini.

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First course.

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Patiently waiting for the next delicious course.

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The pasta.

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The chingiale arrives.

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The vegetables are served by Dalida.
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Renato carving the porchetta.

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My porchetta.

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Alfredo enjoying his stinco (shin bone)

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Pannacotta for dolce.

And as is that wasn’t enough, there were frittelle di San Giuseppe to follow.

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If you get the chance to attend any of these local dinners, do so, you will love it.

Take a look at Heather’s website and blog. She knows all about the local festivals.

www.sapori-e-saperi.com

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Casabasciana from above.