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When we first started planning our Europe trip, life was crazy. I was working on a puzzle of Vernazza, and all I wanted to do was enjoy a simpler life . Cinque Terre became my obsession. As I started my Cinque Terre trip planning, I decided we needed to stay in Cinque Terre. Outside of hiking, I found cooking classes in Manarola, but none of them were offered when we were there. Making pesto in Cinque Terre became an obsession. I was so excited when I found this class!
Though Levanto isn’t exactly one of the Cinque Terre villages, it is a short 20-minute train ride from Manarola. Or 25 from Riomaggiore and 15 from Monterroso al Mare). It took us about 15 minutes to walk from the train station to La Nicchia, but it was a straight shot. They prepared an elaborate spread of olives, olive oil, bread, pesto, and wine. The instructor explained via demonstration how pesto is made using the traditional marble and wood tools and how to take the center veins out of garlic. She spread it onto toasted bread for us to try. It was SO good. We had eaten pesto the night before in Manarola and thought it was good, but it didn’t even compare to the fresh stuff!
After that tasting, she let us make our own. The recipe is really straightforward – basil, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, with a little bit of olive oil. All fresh, all tasty. Our pesto had a little more parmesan than hers, the way my husband likes it. It turned bright green once it was almost ready…. and then we proceeded to eat all of it. We also tried more of the store’s products. I loved the pasta that you could cook, roll out, and stamp with your own pasta logo, but who has a pasta logo besides a pasta house?!
I really enjoyed the cioccolatini sciacchetrà, chocolates are filled with a local sweet wine. We brought a bag of them back for my mom! I sent a box of pasta and sauces back to the States. It arrived a couple days after we did with everything perfectly packed. I can’t wait to pretend like I’m back in Cinque Terre minus the view, of course.
Making pesto in Cinque Terre was definitely one of my most favorite activities (and number 1 on my Top 10 list!) on this trip. If you can’t make it to a class (but you should!), make the trip to Levanto and pick up their products. The La Nicchia staff was warm, friendly, and excited to share their goodies. They definitely make the best pesto, but I found a restaurant in Vernazza that wasn’t too bad – especially after hiking between villages!