Any foodie taking a little tour of the Lunigiana will come to know the word “Zeri.” It is synonymous with the best lamb in Tuscany, if not Italy.
We went searching for Zeri one day. We didn’t find it. That’s because Zeri is the name of a general conglomeration of valleys in northern Lunigiana. Small villages dot the landscape. None of them are named Zeri.
So, not knowing that we weren’t in Zeri, we drove around and around. This was a good thing, because the area is quite beautiful, although very sparsely populated. And there are more restaurants than you’d think there’d be considering the size of the villages.
To get there you take a small, windy road out of Pontremoli up the mountains. If you happen to encounter a bus coming from the other direction, you’ll have to negotiate a way around; the road is that narrow. Thus the little voyage shown as a short squiggle on the map can be deceptively long. But the drive is worth it if you like small villages still locked into old traditions.
Despite the lack of population, there’s actually a bit of information on the web about Zeri. BlogZeri has lots of information in Italian along with pictures and the occasional English post, like For our friends abroad. Perhaps if you leave a comment, more English information would be forthcoming.
There is skiing in Zeri, and the winter picture in this blog post is quite amazing.
Zeri lamb is sold at a butcher shop in Pontremoli, one I’ve never been able to locate. I’ll try again this spring. My mouth waters.
Here’s what Slow Food says about Zeri lamb.
I leave you with a picture, one taken as we made our way back to Pontremoli.