per una via sassosa et aspra,
pure assai dilettevole per la bellissima vista
di colline et campagne piene d’amandoli, et olivi”.
“Last evening we arrived here, in Cavriana, travelling along a way that was stony and rough, but also delightful for the beautiful view of hills and fields, full of almond and olive trees”.
These words, from a letter written by Isabella d’Este in 1535, describe one of the many visits of the Marchioness to the Lake Garda Hillside.
The letter was sent from Cavriana, a small village on the mantuan hills, close to the Lake. Here Isabella had one of her leisure residences: you can still see the name of Isabella carved on a fireplace architrave in the local museum.
On the hills of Cavriana – today as in the times of Isabella – many almond trees grow, and almonds are the main ingredient of a very special cake, which is cooked every year in Cavriana, on the occasion of the feast of the local patron saint: San Biagio (Saint Blaise).
The "Torta di San Biagio" ("Cake of Saint Blaise") is a tart, stuffed with an almond-filling, and made with a special pastry, which has not eggs, but white wine in. The filling is composed with almonds, eggs, chopped chocolate, anise and sugar. The top of the cake is decorated with a grill made of pastry, cut in lozenges, which shows the interior filling.
Every year, on February 3rd, an enormous "Cake of Saint Blaise" - with more of 3 meters of diameter - is cut on the main square of Cavriana.