Hidden down a side street in the old part of Pisa is an excellent small restaurant, Osteria di Culegna. We discovered it by accident one lunchtime, when the restaurant we were heading for turned out to be unexpectedly closed. Not only was the food excellent at Osteria di Culegna, but we discovered that one of the owners of this family-run restaurant is from Teschietto in Lunigiana. No wonder the food is exceptional!
We were on one of those trips so familiar to expat residents in Lunigiana … returning visitors to Pisa Airport via the Piazza dei Miracoli. To revive ourselves after the tourist crush at the Leaning Tower, we planned to have lunch in the old town. However, Pisa was recovering from La Luminara di San Ranieri festival the day before, and nothing was operating as it should, including our original destination.
We wandered down Borgo Stretto looking for an alternative, and fortunately spotted Osteria di Culgena down a side street, not particularly far from our original destination. We felt immediately at home in this traditional, family-run restaurant providing authentic local food. The layout, the furniture, the decor, the friendly staff, the fact that you can see into the kitchen, all creates a welcoming first impression. The clientele was Italian.
There were no menus, always a good sign that you’ll get what’s fresh that day, and we weren’t disappointed. Our order was taken, without the need for note taking, by the friendly and cheerful Laura from Teschietto. The quality and freshness of the ingredients were evident, and each dish was perfectly prepared. After delicious and reasonably priced antipasti and pasta dishes, we sadly had no time to linger over the interesting main courses as we had to deliver our guests to the airport. But it won’t be long before this situation is remedied.
In a town where there is plenty of mediocre fare catering to the hordes of tourists, Osteria di Culegna is a gem. We highly recommend it. If you plan to visit in the evening or at busy times, a reservation is recommended. And, of course, don’t forget to tell Laura of your Lunigiana connections.