The sorroundings

The magic of the Calizzano woods

 

Our artisanal workshop can be found in the picturesque town of Calizzano, immersed in the beautiful ancient chestnut and beech woods, just 30 minutes from the Ligurian coast.

In Calizzano over a hundred years ago methods for preserving mushrooms started to be used, especially with the prized porcini mushroom that here has found an ecosystem that is very favorable to its growth. The woods are historically a resource for the local community, that for thousands of years has extracted wood, natural products such as mushrooms and also chestnuts which are preserved by drying them in the traditional “tecci”, small ancient stone constructions that can still be found on the edges of the chestnut woods.

The valley is also an ideal place traditionally for growing potatoes, maize, vegetables and small red fruits in particular blueberries but saffron has also found a favorable climate and terrain here.

Porcini mushrooms and local traditions

 

In this enchanting place, the local inhabitants have handed down knowledge that is one of the “ingredients” that make the artisanal products unique and are the basis of the recipes for local specialities.

These often include fresh porcini mushrooms as a principal ingredient (eaten raw in salads, cooked “a funghetto” with olive oil, garlic and parsley, with potatoes or served with pasta such as home made tagliatelle) or dried (the base of the “tocco” sauce is dried mushrooms which are present in many traditional Ligurian dishes such as “buridda” and “tomaxelle”).

To preserve the beauty and integrity of the woods and to regulate its use a “Consortium  for the mushrooms of Calizzano” was established which has as one of its tasks the regulation of the gathering of this precious natural product.

When is the time to go out mushroom hunting in Calizzano?

 

In Calizzano and the surrounding areas the woods up to a certain altitude are made up of copses (beech, chestnut, pine and oak) while higher up the beech woods dominate. In this region there are two seasons for collecting mushrooms, that of late spring/summer (from May to June and sometimes into July) and that of the autumn (from September through the whole of October, and the beginning of November).

In both seasons the first mushroom to appear is almost always the Boletus pinicola. When the temperature increases (from the end of June until sometimes the end of July and into August) the Boletus aestivalis or reticulatus (commonly known as the summer cep) appear. During the summer, if there are the right climatic conditions, in the more humid woods it is also possible to find Cantarellus cibarius (chanterelles) and Canterellus cornucopioides (black chanterelles). At the end of the summer the porcini surrender the wood to Albatrellus pes-caprae. Some years between the middle of August and September the Amanita caesarea (Caesar’s mushroom) makes its appearance in the chestnut and oak woods. From September to the end of October the woods are at their best offering black and white porcini (pinicola and aedulis). The season is heavily influenced by winds and humidity. The last mushrooms to come up are, between the end of October and November, the Tricholoma portentosum (charbonnier).

How to go out mushroom hunting in Calizzano?

To start with before setting off into the woods it is compulsory to obtain an identification card for the purpose of mushroom collection (these can be found in the Consortium, the Tourist Office, and certain bars). And if you don’t know the territory very well it is not recommended either going by yourself or with the approach of sunset.

When gathering mushrooms never use plastic bags but either a basket or a cloth bag (mushrooms must be aired to allow the spores to be scattered and allow for reproduction).

In the woods you need “to use your head”, assess your limits and above all respect the equilibrium of the ecosystem, not plundering it but gathering only the quantity of mushrooms allowed, only the species that you recognize and that are young, healthy, intact and with a dimension greater than 3 cms. Do not hit mushrooms that you don’t recognize or you consider to be poisonous because they are useful for the ecosystem. Do not use rakes and hooks that can cause irreparable damage to the substratum. The woods are a precious resource for animals but also for humans so do not light fires, do not pollute the water and do not leave rubbish behind. Respect the trees and the animals and avoid unnecessary noise.