The Serchio valley, Trouts and politcs.
Most of us that have gone to Barga, eventually will travel to the Eremo di Colimini to taste the famous trout that David and Sara prepare for their patrons. They are justifiably proud of the trout and if I have any complaints is that the view of the valley from the outdoor terrace is so incredible that it is difficult to concentrate on the food.
BACK TO THE TROUTS……
In 1393 the rich gentlemen from the nearby Castelli (Florence) wrote the consuls of Barga requesting, as a favor, 200 lbs of trout from the Serchio river to celebrate the festival for San Giovanni (St. John) . The letter, still in existence, said “we know that the Serchio has an abundance of trout, therefore we are sending our son Michelino to fetch them. (Datum Florientiae in loco nostrae residentiae 16 juni 1393- (written from our home in Florence June 16, 1393) Michelino went to Barga and brought the 200 lbs of trout back. They were such a hit with the “Signori” that it became customary every year, in June, for Barge to provide the big shots in Florence with 200lbs of trout. In fact the Florentines liked them so much that they made a law obliging Barga to provide 200lbs of trout every year, in perpetuity. Not only they wanted the trout, but they had to be cleaned, fried and marinated before delivery and of such “goodness and quality” as to please the gentlemen visiting Florence during the festivities. This “Tax” became very costly; In fact in 1580 the records show that it took 2 Flasks of oil to fry them, 3 Flasks of vinegar to marinate them, money was spent for wood, salt, wine and to pay the fishermen and 12 soldi were given to Lena del Giulianolo to provide clean water and to clean them prior to frying them. With time the Serchio River could no longer provide such abundance, so 200 years later the law was changed to allow the Barghiggiani to provide 500 lbs of tender-milk-fed-veal, of such quality as to please the receiving gentlemen. About 100 years later Florence agreed to accept the equivalent in money and finally in 1776 the law was removed from the books. Much of the fishing was being done in the Corsonna stream (through Loppia) and Ania (through Barga).
So, when you go to Barga and order a trout for dinner, think of those guys in Florence doing the same 600 years ago.