Itinerary in the Pisan Hills: Pastina, Pieve di Santa Luce, Lari

Wheat is a food known and used since the dawn of time and it seems that it was already cultivated in prehistoric times. Over the centuries, man has started sowing it in different territories, discovering different types of wheat.In Italy, where the climate and the territory are particularly favorable to this type of crop, wheat is grown in all its varieties. There are various types of wheat, but we can distinguish them in two main categories: common wheat and durum wheat. Both types are used for feeding: from the first we obtain flours useful for the preparation of bread, biscuits, fresh egg pasta, cakes and pizza; from the second, instead, we obtain the semolina (of durum wheat, semolina, whole wheat, etc.) which serves to prepare the pasta. The different types of semolina contain a different amount of fiber and mineral salts.

Tuscany is not a land of pasta factories like other Italian regions are, especially in the south. However, there are interesting local realities, which have been producing excellent quality pasta for years, appreciated both in Italy and abroad. This itinerary aims to highlight some of them, linking them to its territory, mainly concentrated in the Pisan Hills. Here there are villages and towns with unknown names but placed in a landscape that has managed to maintain its identity and traditions. And that will surprise you.



Sights

Pass the traffic on the SS206 Via Emilia, which connects Pisa with Cecina, and turn off in the direction of Santa Luce, passing the LIPU Nature Reserve, a must for nature lovers and especially birdwatchers.
The noise gives way to the silence. Armies of cicadas seem to be the only owners of the countryside around Santa Luce, when, in early summer, hidden among the golden wheat, they perform in their uninterrupted concerts without spectators.
The hills around the lake of Santa Luce are covered with wheat plantations, from which the members of the Cooperative Agricultural Producers Pieve Santa Luce get the semolina. For over fifty years Santa Luce has been a land of pasta. It’s their way to bronze drawing and low temperature drying that make their noodles, rags and pappardelle particularly tasty. To confirm this, just participate in “Pasta Nostram”, the festival that every September shows the products of the summer just passed.

In the hamlet of Pastina there is the “Azienda Agricola La Ghiraia” which produces Pasta Bertoli, an artisanal pasta produced with durum wheat semolina, selected from the best cultivations of wheat of the Pisan Hills, where tradition has maintained a raw material of excellence. It is not a pasta factory, but sells pasta at the shop.

A short distance away is Podere San Bartolomeo, a small family-run company that takes its name from San Bartolomeo, the town’s patron saint. Here the “Grani Antichi Senatore Cappelli” line is produced, an artisanal pasta made of durum wheat semolina of high quality and very slow drying. Also this is not a pasta factory but sells pasta (and oil) at the farm shop.

 

Nearby, precisely in Pomaia, there is the Lama Tzong Khapa Buddhist Institute, which in the past hosted famous personalities such as the footballer Roberto Baggio or the actor Richard Gere. In the village of Santa Luce there is one of the three poles of the Ecomuseum of Alabaster (the others are in Castellina Marittima and Volterra) dedicated to the excavation activity in the alabaster quarries, once numerous in the area.
Still in the Pisan Hills, but moving to Lari, a medieval village characterized by the imposing size of the Castello dei Vicari, we arrive at the Martelli Family artisan pasta factory, open to visitors but without direct sales. Only the members of the family work in the pasta factory, all strictly in yellow uniform. The processing is marked by slow procedures, at low temperatures, which gives a lower yield but enhance the taste of the grain, the absorption of the sauce and increase the digestibility of the pasta.

Tired of the itinerary? Maybe hot because we are in the summer or cold because in the winter? No problem! A refreshing and above all regenerating dive awaits you near Lari, in the outdoor pool of Terme di Casciana. Maybe accompanied by a mud or beauty treatment at the Villa Borri Spa or hot springs.

Ready for another itinerary in the Terre di Pisa?