Eating and drinking
The most representative dish in the Brescian culinary tradition is casonsèi, large ravioli stuffed with Parmigian cheese, spinach and eggs. Other popular dishes are strangolapreti ("priest stranglers"), elongated dumplings made of spinach, bread, eggs and cheese. From Mantua, we have the tradition of tortelli di zucca, stuffed with pumpkin, almond cookies, fruit mustard, raisins and pine nuts. A real delicacy! Also not to be missed, especially in the fall and winter, is polenta taragna, made from buckwheat, cream cheese and butter. Among the soups, mariconda is typical: bread and egg dumplings flavored with nutmeg and Parmigian cheese and cooked in broth.
Among the meats, Brescian gastronomy offers tripe, lepre in salmì (wild hare), mixed kabobs and uccelli scappati ("escaped birds"), which, the name notwithstanding, is actually pork wrapped in sage leaves. Also, typical, manzo all’olio, a very popular braised beef dish.
One dish much loved by Brescians is polenta and game birds, which is eaten during hunting season.
Lake Iseo fish is highly-prized: try the baked tench with polenta. And for those with strong palates, there's lumache alla bresciana, snails cooked with spinach and seasoned with abundant grated Parmigian cheese.
Cheeses: from the mountains, we have puìna (a cow's milk ricotta), rosa camuna and the goat's milk cheeses, while the plains provide robiola and quartirolo; from the Lake Garda area, we have the famous formagelle di Tremosine. A very aromatic cheese called bagòss deserves a special mention; it is made from the milk of cows that have grazed in the summer mountain pastures, rich with wildflowers and aromatic herbs, and then aged for two years.
Wine: perhaps due to the influence of Venice, the Brescians are notoriously great wine-lovers and there is certainly no lock of production in Brescia: from Barbera, Marzemino, Schiava and Sangiovese grapes come the DOC reds such as Botticino and Cellatica. The hills of Lake Garda have two areas of DOC cultivation: Lugana, a dry white, and Garda Classico, which can be white, red or rosé.
Even more famous are the wines of Franciacorta, an area south of Lake Iseo: whites, rosés and reds, or a prestigious sparkling wine. Franciacorta DOCG is the most prized Italian sparkling wine, produced from Chardonnay and/or Pinot nero and/or Pinot bianco grapes. The characteristics of Franciacorta wines are: fine, persistent perlage; deep straw yellow color with greenish highlights; a mellow, but decisive, scent of yeast accompanied by delicate hints of dried fruit and cloves; pleasantly flavorful and fresh in the mouth.
Photos courtesy of: Provincia di Brescia Assessorato Turismo, Comune di Brescia Servizio Turismo