Italy’s Citta del Miele – A Honey of a Trip

bees“I didn’t feel the fatigue of the day anymore. It  made me joyous to be an apiarist.” Mario Bianco, an impassioned beekeeper who lives in the  foothills of the Alps

Don’t forget to sweeten your Italian journey by exploring Italy’s citta del miele (cities of honey).  46 cities and three mountain communities across Italy’s peninsula have been joined in association to support and promote the recognition of the tradition of Italian honey. Sponsored events encourage visitors to learn about the world of Italian apicultura (beekeeping) and experience honeys completely unique to each region with distinctive aromas, sensory characteristics and flavor profiles. From the Alps to the Apennines, from the farms and agriturismi of Chianti to the curious Miele Amaro di Corbezzolo  (bitter honey) of the island of Sardenga and the rich, wild honey produced by nomadic bees along Tuscany’s Etruscan coast  ,Italian honey reflects the terroir of the region much like a fine wine. The cities of honey have a strong commitment to biodiversity, aware of the irreplaceable role the ape has in environmental monitoring. Association efforts promote sustainable production methods and certified organic and traditional products.

Any trip to Italy should include a honey expedition to at least one of these cities to explore the countryside, parks, food and local traditions .

Italian honey is a perfect complement to a fruit and cheese plate like the iconic pears, pecorino toscano and chestnut honey. However you can go off script using Italian honey in unique and innovative ways as in this condiment made as follows. The ingredients are

5 T unsalted butter, 1 small diced onion, 2 small diced carrots, 2 T mild flavored Italian honey, 2 T grated bitter chocolate, 2 T aged balsamic vinegar, 3-4 T of sultanas (pale yellow, seedless raisins), 3-4 T of roasted pine nuts, a bit of coarsely chopped fresh parsley and marjoram, a small whole bay leaf and coarse sea salt. Sauté the onions in the butter until slightly caramelized. Add the carrots, herbs and sultanas and coarsely chopped pine nuts. Add salt and stirring, add the honey and chocolate, mixing well on low heat. When cooked,  add the balsamic vinegar, causing it to evaporate. The end result must be a dense sweet and sour sauce, ideal for roasts and boiled meats.

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