History / Traditions / Interesting Facts
In Liguria, mussels are known as 'muscoli'. Mussel farming in La Spezia started around the year 1887. Oyster farms are made of poles, driven into the seabed about 5 m apart, rising up for about a metre and a half above the surface, hence the term "vineyards of the sea'.
Reviving a tradition that began at the end of the 19th century but was abandoned in the 1950s, oyster farming has begun in earnest again in recent years. Small and tasty, and very different from French oysters, which are larger and sweeter, oysters from La Spezia have a particularly iodised and lingering taste.
Anchovies are caught with purse seine nets called 'lampare'. Anchovies from the Ligurian Sea, preserved in salt, have received EU recognition under the IGP 'Acciughe sotto sale del Mar Ligure', with the entire coastal region of Liguria involved in their production. They are sold in characteristic glass jars called 'arbanelle'.
The region's fishing activities are closely related to the fishing tradition of Liguria's coastal communities. Mention of them is first made in the statutes of Liguria's coastal cities in medieval times. Subsequently, in the late Middle Ages, this type of product starts to be used as a trade commodity in exchanges with the Piedmont region. From the 16th century, the same statutes were enriched with rules and regulations governing the fishing, processing, and sale of anchovies, both as a fresh product and preserved in salt. A tax named 'la gabella piscium' dates back to the same period. It was introduced by the Republic of Genoa to control the supply and sale of fish. Anchovy traders, known as 'acciugai', have, for the most part, carried out their trade using traditional methods, handed down from generation to generation, though a special licence was required in order to salt and sell the fish.
Mitilicoltori Spezzini soc. coop.
Federico Pinza – T +39 0187 970210, +39 3357567340 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Cooperativa Piccola Pesca Monterosso al Mare
Beppe Martelli – T +39 0187 817053, +39 335 5396148 – email@example.com
News and events
Mytiliade – Mediterranean mussel festival in September – Lerici (La Spezia) – Traditional cultural and gastronomic event dedicated to mussels. The programme includes gastronomic workshops, presentations and displays.