Eating in Màntova

Window of sweets in central Màntova.

According to one source, the poet  Torquato Tasso wrote about Màntova in 1586:

This is a very beautiful city and one worth travelling a thousand miles to see.

After a recent trip to this city in Lombardy, we would agree that it is both a beautiful city and a very satisfying place to eat. Two specialities stand out. The first is tortelli or ravioli di zucca, a traditional pasta with pumpkin.

Pumpkin tortelli from Spirito diVino in Mantova, Italy

Cooked pumpkin is mashed and combined with parmesan, amaretti cookies and/or mostarda, and wrapped in fresh pasta in the shape of ravioli or tortelli (see the recipe). The dish we tried at Trattoria Osteria Spirito Divino combined the sweet taste of pumpkin with the sharpness of parmesan, wrapped in fresh egg pasta and topped with a traditional butter and sage sauce. It is often eaten in the fall and for the Christmas holidays when pumpkins are in season. Very satisfying!

Sbrisolona is baked like a large cake and then broken in pieces to eat.

The other specialty of Mantovà we particularly enjoyed was a sweet called sbrisolona. It tastes almost like shortbread with lots of almonds, not too sweet but dense and nutty. We bought several pieces of it at a bakery called Casa del Pane that had the most beautiful range of sweets and breads, including a large variety of long bread sticks in a variety of flavors, from onion to red pepper. We kept some of the sbrisolona for the next day and it was still crumbly and nutty, a perfect snack while walking around with friends in the afternoon. A recipe for sbrisolona can be found here.

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