Viterbo and Tuscia Food & Wine
The most traditional dish in the province of Viterbo is acquacotta. This modest dish is also featured in Tuscan cuisine but the type found in Viterbo has differing ingredients and preparation. It is composed of four main elements: dry homemade bread, vegetables (such as chicory, potatoes, tomatoes, and onions), wild mint, and extra-virgin olive oil.
The recipe and ingredients tend to differ in various areas of Tuscia, though each is a variation of the dish described above. For instance, near Lake Bolsena the dish is named sbroscia instead, and an extra ingredient is added—lake fish. Sbroscia is prepared by the fisherman directly on the shores of the lake, and it is traditionally believed that the soup was once made using water from the lake itself.
Local rounded hazelnuts grown in the Cimini Mountains in the province of Viterbo are indispensable when preparing this simple yet tasty sweet. The hazelnuts themselves are actually used in a variety of other important Italian sweets such as the torrone. The tozzetti biscuits made from Tuscian hazelnuts are dry and have a trapezoidal or rhombus shape. They are significant because they are present during every type of important celebration in Tuscia including baptisms, first communions, and weddings.
The most noteworthy wine from Tuscia is without a doubt the D.O.C. wine known as Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone. It is is a white wine that pairs well with fish and appetizers. Its unusual name derives from a legend that dates back to 1111. During this time, Henry V, a German King, was traveling to Rome to receive his crown as Holy Roman Emperor. One of his traveling companions was a bishop named Johannes Defuk who was quite found of wine. He instructed his cupbearer to travel ahead of the party and sample local wines on the road to Rome. When he came upon a particularly good wine, the cupbearer was to write “est” (meaning “it is here”) near the door of the lodging and “est est” if the wine was exceptionally good. In this way the bishop would easily know where to stop for a glass of stellar wine. It is believed that when the cupbearer stopped at Montefiascone and he tried the local wine he rushed to the door of the lodging and wrote “Est! Est!! Est!!!” with exactly six exclamation points.