Touring Italy Through its Digestive System
Ask any Italian about the connection between our overall well-being and what we eat and be prepared for a lengthy discussion revolving around one central theme: good digestion.
It’s a countrywide obsession.
Nowhere is the process of achieving la dolce vita of the stomach on fuller display than during the ritual of the multicourse, multihour dinner, where what’s heaped on the plate and poured in the glass represents a belief system of keeping the body, therefore the mind, content and productive.
The experience is designed for slow savoring, capped by a vital, not-to-be-skipped element.
Italians swear by these time-tested elixirs—collectively known as amari—for breaking down a big meal and ensuring a good night’s sleep.
The Greeks and Romans documented their reliance on digestivi and medieval monks and herbalists crafted an even wider range of tonics and medicinals.
The potion remains the same; an alcohol-infused mix of herbs, seeds, roots, fruits, berries, and flowers.
There are as many types of digestivi in Italy as there are shapes of pastavo and, just like wine and cheese, each distinctive taste tells the story of a region’s landscape, fauna, and climate.
Potions produced on the coast often pack a punch of citrus, while mountain varieties deliver the smell and taste of pine.
It’s true that you can find digestivi almost anywhere in the world these days, but not until you stand in an orchard ripening in the sun’s intensity can you fully appreciate the lush taste and smell of a lemon’s liqueur.
From north to south, here’s a short glass of distinctive digestives…
View the list and read about each digestivi on Paste.
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