|The church at Triora|
Molini di Triora is about two-thirds of the way up the Argentina valley, and it clings proudly to the mountainside, despite its falling and ageing population. From the top of the village, the views down the valley and across the mountains are breathtaking, banks of carefully terraced fields tumbling down towards the sea, the spreading fruit and olive trees, the rugged hillside. Molini, like the other villages and hamlets that nestle in the folds of the mountain, is like a tiny, model Bethlehem, the church atop the village, a handful of houses cast around it, higgledy-piggledy.
In the Hotel Santo Spirito, there is no menu (actually there is, but I only noticed it, pinned in the foyer, when I was leaving). The husky-voiced, black-haired patrona comes to your table and, with hands very formally clasped behind her back, announces "antipasto!" and you nod enthusiastically and await the delicacies of the day - and each day it is different. In fact, there are two courses - cold antipasto consisting of Russian salad, porcini mushrooms marinaded in olive oil, half a tomato stuffed with the freshest homemade pesto, a slick of creamy ricotta flavoured with garlic and onion, and vitello tonnato. The hot starters are little discs of deep-fried cheese, or a slab of torta de verdura, the local vegetable tart made with ricotta, chard, potatoes and herbs, a circle of frittata. All is accompanied by a local wine and rustic rye bread which is made up the road in the local bakery.
|sausage with fennel|
Back at the flat, I eat gooey Gorgonzola dolce straight off the knife, and pink tongues of sweet proscuitto. Tomorrow night I am going to the restaurant with the giant plastic mushroom outside, where, I am promised, I will experience a true celebration of Ligurian cuisine.