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Biscotti! It Is Not What You Think

All of a sudden, one can find countless blogs and articles about biscotti. But I am not here to discuss just any kind of biscotti, but rather the Biscotti (with an uppercase B) from Prato, the town that I am from, a few miles north of Florence. It's okay if cookie connoisseurs overlooked the real story of biscotti till now because once they read our blog, they'll know.

Biscotti are made with a few simple ingredients: flour, almonds, eggs, sugar, and yeast. But the secret lies in the quality of the ingredients, how they are mixed, and by the passion with which they are made, the latter being the most significant of all.

Therefore, when I get asked where one can find the best "Biscotti di Prato", I give them the one and only option: befriend my sister, Sara, and convince her that you deserve to have her bake you a batch of this unique dessert, the regal end to Sunday lunch, under the Tuscan sun.

For those that don't have the opportunity to taste my sister's best biscotti in town, there is another option, La Bottega di' Fochi, also known as Biscotteria Bellini Giuseppe. It's located in Carmignano, a small village in the outskirts of Florence, Italy.

The biscotti at La Bottega di' Fochi are almost as famous as my sister's. This little "bottega" (store) on the main street of downtown Carmiganno, was originally a small pasta factory where the working press was operated by a donkey. In 1897, it was taken over by Giovanni Bellini, who was nicknamed by the local villagers as I' Fochi (the fires). The store was named after him, and since then, the bakers at La Bottega di' Fochi have produced sweet treats with simple and authentic ingredients.

The bakery has been handed down through three generations of the Bellini family, who rejoice when a customer appreciates their products. Their patrons come to buy biscotti as well as the many desserts that remind them of the aromas and flavors of their grandma's kitchen, such as apple pies. They also produce another staple of the region: crumbled pie with black grapes (schiacciata con l'uva). This traditional delicacy is made with bread dough (flour, olive oil, sugar, brewer's yeast, and water) which is mixed with "uva fragolina" (strawberry grapes) or the black grapes used for wine.

Luckily, when my sister is not in the mood to bake, there is always the Bellini family to fill my stomach. Indeed, eating authentic Biscotti di Prato is another exclusive opportunity that will make you realize – and you probably didn't have to wait until dessert - that heaven is not just the ultimate destination in Tuscany, but a daily reality.

Don't forget to pair biscotti with Vin Santo (sweet wine) and drench them in the glass for the best taste. The best pairing is with Vin Santo di Carmignano D.O.C. Riserva, made from Carminagno's vineyards, one of the best in the region.

Biscotteria Bellini, di'Fochi address: Via Roma 10, Carmignano, Prato, Italy

Tenuta di Capezzana (Vin Santo Winery) address: Via Capezzana 100, Carmignano, Prato, Italy

I know you want to know my sister Sara's address as well, but for that, you will have to give me a good enough reason that you really deserve that batch of handmade, warm biscotti made with love. And for those of you wandering, she is not available …as she is happily married to a "buongustaio" (foodie).

~ Written by: Viktoria Rusnakova & Samuele Bagnai, authors of Enthusiastic All the Way & Tuscan Who Sold His Fiat to the Pope, respectively.

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