On October 6th, 7th, and 8th, in La Spezia, the first Italian Oyster Festival, the Italy Oyster Fest, will take place. Dedicated to the “made in Italy” oyster, the event focuses on sustainability, taste, and accessibility, recognized as essential for the growth of an increasingly significant production in Italy.
A rich program of events is planned to delve into, learn about, and taste this precious fruit of the sea with awareness. The festival brings to La Spezia oyster producers from all over Italy and a guest from France. In addition to Liguria, there will be productions from Sardinia, Puglia, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna. The festival showcases oyster productions from Liguria and regions like Sardinia, Puglia, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna.
The Resurgence of La Spezia’s Oysters
Historical milestones are not limited to the past but also manifest in gastronomy. In Portovenere, within the Gulf of La Spezia, oyster cultivation has experienced a remarkable revival after more than a century of dormancy. It began at the end of the 19th century, thanks to the advent of some pioneers from Taranto who found the ideal climate and biological conditions here to set up their nurseries. Along with mussels, oysters were also farmed, but without much luck. Despite the favorable conditions, seabreams were very fond of the precious mollusks, and the production proved less profitable and more challenging than that of mussels at the time. It was then decided to abandon it to focus on mussel muscoli – farming, which locals are now proudly fond of.
Today, Italian oyster cultivation is on the rise, thanks to enhanced and secure cleaning techniques delivering exceptional product quality. In La Spezia, in recent decades, it was thanks to the passionate Paolo Varrella, now vice president of the Cooperativa Mitilicoltori Associati del Golfo, that the Gulf rediscovered its “own oyster,” with a peculiar green color, different because it feeds on“local phytoplankton.” This uniqueness gives green nuances, a fragrant imprint, and pronounced savoriness.“.
According to research from the University of Genoa, oysters exhibit an average size increase of over 150% and heightened resistance to bacteria and viruses when cultivated alongside mussels—abundantly found in the waters of La Spezia. Moreover, oysters are beneficial for the sea; it is argued that oysters are one of the most eco-friendly foods, and the farming of these mollusks follows some of the most ecological food production methods, with a very low environmental impact.
In conclusion, Italian oysters are poised to become a food of the future, celebrated not only for their distinctive, tantalizing taste of the sea but also for their sustainable and environmentally conscious cultivation practices.
A boat tour in the La Spezia sea, discovering La Spezua Mussels and Oysters