The Gulf of Poets is home to mussel breeding, one of the activities of excellence of the territory. Mussels and Oysters from La Spezia, farmed in the waters between Cinque Terre and the Magra Nature Reserve, are a delicious part of the local gastronomic tradition.
Mussel breeding in this part of the Italian Riviera dates to the 1890s, when mussel-farming pioneers decided to test the local waters. Despite a shaky start, the activity took off. The main initiator was Emanuele Albano, an oyster farmer from Taranto in Apulia, where mussel farming was already part of the local tradition. New nurseries were created in the Bay of La Spezia and in the channel dividing Portovenere and Palmaria Island.
In addition to the muscoli, which is the local term for mussels – also known in Italian as cozze or mitili – Spezia’s farmers started excelling in the cultivation of luxurious oysters. For more details on the history of these delicacies, read the article Emanuele Albano, The Man Who Looked For Mussels And Found The “Muscoli” by Cinque Terre & Beyond.
Local mussel farmers, known as muscolai, have handed down their ancient methods of mussel breeding throughout generations, a trade that allows for the Gulf of Poets to maintain an autochthonous production. Most importantly, local muscoli and oysters are deliciously tasty, wholesome, and a guarantee of sanitary excellence, as they grow in clean waters awarded with the Bandiera Blu (Blue Flag certification).
If you want to experience Liguria’s gastronomy, traditions and history in an authentic way, there is an activity that is just perfect for you. Grand Hotel Portovenere, the boutique hotel in the Gulf of Poets, provides its Guests with the possibility of joining an exclusive excursion in La Spezia’s oyster farms.
This unique and exclusive boat tour includes sailing around the Islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, and a visit to the oyster farms in Portovenere. An expert guide will illustrate how the cultivation works take place at sea. Later, an oyster-based aperitif with white wine from Cinque Terre and local focaccia will be served on board. The 4-hour boat departs from and arrives in Portovenere.
This experience is the result of the collaboration between Grand Hotel Portovenere and Associazione per il Mare, a local association that carries out educational and social activities in the Gulf of Poets.