As soon as I knew we would be driving from Lucca (in Tuscany) to Acqui Terme (in Piemonte), I figured we should stop somewhere interesting for lunch. Rather than leaving it to chance, I decided to ask my good buddy Palma-one of my favorite Italophiles-where we should pull off the autostrada. She didn’t hesitate in her response-Chiavari. I pulled out the map and agreed that this would be the perfect stopping point on our journey north.
Chiavari is a coastal town on the Ligurian Riviera north of the famous Cinque Terre (and south of Genoa). We had no idea of what to expect when we pulled off the road and followed the street down to the water. There we found a parking lot and headed off to find the centro storico. Not far from the train station we stumbled upon the weekly market and of course, I cannot pass a market by without stopping to check out the fruits, vegetables and cheeses for sale. Immediately I was struck by the beauty of the buildings and was charmed by this coastal town.
I didn’t ask Palma for a restaurant recommendation and so we ambled along, reading menus as we came upon restaurants. We almost entered one and then decided it looked a bit too fancy for our lunch. We walked a little further under the porticoes that lined the street and peered in a few windows. There was one place that we felt the need to return to-a small trattoria with communal tables and a huge wood fired oven. The hand written menu was posted on the window and although it was small, everything on it looked good. We were hooked and in we went.
Luchin is exactly the kind of place we were hoping for. We dined among the locals on authentic food of the area. Every single bite was packed with flavor. It was the kind of experience that you didn’t want to end. In fact a week later we came back for another lunch. Both times I was fascinated by their simple verdure ripiene (stuffed vegetables) and have been attempting to recreate them at home.
Before leaving town we visited their take out gourmet shop a few doors down and I was like a kid in a candy shop-cheeses, wines, prepared foods, pasta rice, honey, oils, vinegars and more. If you’re ever have a chance, do stop in Chiavari, you won’t be disappointed. Oh and one more thing-there’s a lovely tiny shop on the same block called Isolaria that handcrafts gorgeous leather bags.
Via Bighetti, 41
Via Bighetti, 27