Another 6:30 morning, and after a shower, lots of coffee, and breakfast, we walked down to the ferry, ready for a day in Cinque Terra. We were told they were not making the trip today due to wind and sea conditions. It was as calm as glass in Lerici, but what did we know?
Plan B: We would go to Genoa, with a stop in Chiavari to try to find Franco, the guy who makes the handcrafted corzetti stamps Diva has talked about!
It was less than an hour drive, and we sang along with my "Mama Mia" CD all the way to Chiavari. What a delightful surprise of a town. We drove through streets of gorgeous homes in park-like yards, with flowers blooming everywhere. We parked near the main street of a lovely central district, and all thought, "Why aren't we staying HERE? Why have we never heard of this place?" The locals were friendly, and helped us find Judy's friend's restaurant, Osteria Luchin. I was armed with a photo of Franco that Judy had sent me. We took it into the restaurant, and a waiter immediately smiled and gave us directions to a small square nearby. He said Franco's shop was off the square, but that Franco was often walking around the area.
We walked over to the square, when both Fiona and Brad said, "Hey, isn't that the guy in the picture?"
I shouted, "Franco?" as we approached. The man turned and smiled. I walked up to him and said, "Siamo amici di Diva, Judy!" I almost believe this would work in any piazza in Italy. It was SO cool. He took us to his workshop, and immediately began to talk about what I wanted carved on my stamp. He directed us to a cafe/pastry shop around the corner, and told us to go have coffee, and come back in half an hour.
We enjoyed a delicious cappucino and the beautiful porticos in the shopping area.
Franco Casoni is one of the last remaining craftsmen to make corzetti, used to make a classic Ligurian pasta. Corzetti means "Little crosses", suggesting that original designs might have included a cross used by Genoese crusaders. The use is to make fresh pasta dough, then to press a thin round of dough between the stamps, leaving an imprint on both sides. Ligurian families used to have their coat of arms carved on their stamp, and symbols on the other side. They are sometimes called "croxetti". Packaged ones remind me of communion wafers.
Traditionally, this pasta is served with basil, tomato, noci or mushroom sauces. Here is Babbo's recipe for corzetti with pesto.
Thirty minutes later, we returned to see my beautiful corzetti stamp with "Palmabella" on one side, and a palm tree on the other! We met Franco's wife, took photos, and were all quite charmed.
This was one of the highlights of our trip. It was such an "Italian morning". Here we were in this lovely UNtouristy town, with a delightful Italian craftsman, who carves enormous bowsprits for ships, and does amazing museum work. He was carving ME a one-of-a-kind pasta stamp because of a connection I have from Slow Travel. No English is spoken. This all happens in the time it takes to have a cup of coffee. We meet his wife, we laugh together, we see an incredibly beautiful beach town, we leave feeling like we had an authentic Italian experience we couldn't have had anywhere else.
WOW! This stuff isn't in the guidebooks. Thanks, Judy!