Baci Di Sanremo
This time of year I'm overtaken by wanderlust so I'm going to be spending the next few weeks exploring the Italian Riviera here on the blog.
Starting in the west, along the Riviera dei Fiori, with a recipe for chocolate Baci di Sanremo. Thanks to my trusty Ligurian guide book, I discovered these delicious little sweets in a bakery near our apartment in Sanremo. These cookies are denser, richer, and more chocolatey than their counterparts to the north. The Baci di Dama typical of Piedmont are lighter in texture and usually filled with Nutella, a chocolate-hazelnut spread produced in Alba.
I tested quite a number of recipes before I found this one by Gina DePalma, which taste exactly like the cookies I remember enjoying in Sanremo.
Sanremo is the original Riviera resort town, the playground of the rich and famous as well as European aristocracy dating back to the turn of the century. Neighbourhoods nearest the waterfront have a much different atmosphere from the older centre of town. The waterfront is more elegant; palm trees line the boulevards, the architecture is more ornate and statues, both living and stone, adorn the street corners.
The beaches are not fabulous, but there's always lots of interesting vendors set up along the boardwalk.
The historic centre of Sanremo is, in fact, a small walled village called La Pigna. The name translates to mean The Pine Cone, you will see many little pine cone symbols through this part of town.
It's easy to get lost in La Pigna, it's basically a series of concentric narrow alleys and covered passageways. This is where we stayed, we rented a great apartment right in the heart of La Pigna, and loved it. Yes, it was noisy, but I enjoyed being surrounded by the sounds of a tightly packed neighbourhood going about their daily routines. The singsong of children's voices in the morning on their way to school, and the clattering of dishes every evening from the restaurant below added to the charm, in my opinion.
The Riviera dei Fiori (Riviera of Flowers) enjoys a particularly warm microclimate because of its position between the sea and the mountains to the north, it's almost tropical, hence the name.
Some points of interest nearby are:
The Hanbury Botanical Gardens just west of Sanremo, have extensive exotic gardens open to the public, accessible by train to Ventimiglia, then a bus.
Ventimiglia Friday Market- This market is famous in the area, it's huge...the rows of vendors seem to go on forever. In addition to fresh produce, local olive oil, cheese and meat, you can also buy a fur coat at this market. Likely due to the fact that Monaco and Nice are only a short hop away by train, there are more high-end vendors at this Italian market than any I've ever seen. It's a great place to pick up cashmere or leather items; you'll find beautiful pieces for a good price while walking in the footsteps of Europe's elite.
For the recipe, and complete instruction to make Baci di Sanremo at home click here.