Friday 14 November | 2014
Sometimes it’s nice to get off the beaten track. Or in this case off the track, into the woods, over the hills, around countless corners, and then keep driving. This journey leads us to Laurenzana, a small Italian village deep in the Basilicata. It is Italy at its most authentic – the kind of place where everybody knows each other, town closes for several hours over lunch, and locals meet to play cards and tell stories in the town square.
Laurenzana doesn’t need a tourist attraction, but it has one. Pasticceria Romano is a magnet for visitors living in the nearby villages, who drop by to collect the mixed trays of traditional cakes and pastries. On the outside it is simple and unassuming, but as always, it is what’s on the inside that counts.
Piles of filled biscotti catch our attention first. I don’t know how we managed to leave without taking a bag of these with us, but sadly, it happened. The trays of little homemade cakes must have stolen our attention!
There are no labels, no unnecessary details, and certainly no marketing spin in sight. A simple handwritten sign illustrates the price of just €1 for anything in the cabinet. It feels like theft when we hand over a five Euro note for a tray of these delicious Italian sweets, and then receive some change back!
Scattered chairs signal a well utilised spot for long talks over a cappuccino and ravioli dolci. The blue and yellow theme is bright and bold, just like the flavours of the sweet and sticky dolci in the cabinet behind.
It would be nice to order one of everything, please, but after several days in Italy we can hardly eat another thing! Unless of course it is a choux pastry filled with dark chocolate crema, a little cassata cake, cornettos with silky crema di pasticceria, a fruit filled sugar pastry, or one of those crispy cannoli with chocolate chips…
Admittedly this is not the first time we have been here – rather the third or fourth time, over several years. Every time we visit the cakes and pastries taste so fresh and unprocessed, as if nonna was up early in the morning to prepare all our favourite treats before we arrive.
Enjoy the authentic and very delicious detour.