Al Vecchio Tino, Casola in Lunigiana - What a great find. Not at all where we expected (it is in the Fraz. di Fivizzano, not Fivizzano itself which is 16 kms away). Having found it, the welcome was fabulously warm and the setting on a sunny spring day overlooking the valley peaceful and breathtaking all at the same time. Then the food: bellissimo. Antipasto della casa (half portion) would have served two (almost). Zuppa di canellini e cozze (mussels) was brilliant (and no shells - whoopee); Tagliata with mushrooms (half portion again plenty) was succulent and `melt in the mouth`. In place of salmon trout, the salmerino (brook trout) with carciofi and mushrooms had been braised in a bag and was a brilliant combination of flavours. House wines were not so great: drinkable, but next time we would probably select from a good wine list. 2.5 courses for two, water, coffee, wine, etc €60. Pretty good value and we were offered digestivi on the house. - Tim
La Cantina, Ghivizzano - Such is the popularity now of the "Menu di Lavoro" here that when we arrived as 1:15 on Friday last week, we and a few others had to wait to be seated. But it was worth the wait. Great zuppa di farro (a local delicacy and one of my favourites) and then delicious seppia (cuttlefish) with pisellini. Rounded off with a wine, water and a correto sambuca and I was very pleased to pay my €10 all inclusive. - Tim
Fratelli Lucchesi, Barga - It is with great sadness that I report the sudden death on Monday night of Fabio Lucchesi, ever-present barister and joint proprietor of this wonderful bar and pasticceria. He will be very dearly missed by so many. Our condolences to his family and friends. - Admin
Verdeluna, Barga - The dining room at Verdeluna is intimate, particularly midweek in December. We were the only diners and our host had opened the restaurant just for us. Rather than making us feel intimidated by this, we felt extremely welcome. The food was excellent, with a strong emphasis on seafood, which was bursting with sea flavours. My cozze (mussel) starter was tasty, but a little overcooked. My wife's sardine fishballs were excellent. We followed with the most sublime seafood pasta I have ever tasted: slightly spicy and coked to perfection. Mains were fish again, baked bream for me, swordfish steak for my wife. Once again, the fish was perfect. Mains were served with quite salty and only just warm french fries. The wine included in dinner was fine and our creme brulee was served with a dessert wine which complimented the dish perfectly. This is a quite unusual dining experience and great for a special occasion. Given the quality of food and the level of personal service we reckoned Verdeluna offered good value for money if you are looking for a 'full' four course meal as there is (understandably) no option to pick and choose a la carte. - Tim R.
Trattoria da Riccardo, Barga - Unlike many other restaurants along the Serchio valley that offer the €10.00 'menu di lavoro' at lunch-time (not Sunday), Riccardos generally has few workmen taking up the offer. In any event the set lunch is exceptional value for money and well worth a visit. Two courses, a carafe of house wine, water, coffee, IVA all included. On the days that they serve it, Zuppa di farro is a firm favourite of mine. - TimA
Verdeluna, Barga - Second visit confirmed the previous experience, though this time there were three other diners sharing the small dining room with us. The set price menu price had increased (again) to €28 - a sign of popularity perhaps or the rise in global food prices. Everything was delicious. The service gracious and attentive. This time we did try the ice cream and chestnut purée and it was divine. - Tim