Search for the truth about byssus or sea silk, the dark brown beard of the giant mollusc Pinna nobilis. When cleaned, treated with lemon juice and viewed in bright light, it shimmers like gold thread. Records go back to the 2nd century CE of its use throughout the ancient world to weave rich garments. The mollusc was made a protected species in 1992. Visit the last remaining byssus weavers and have a workshop with the young former student of one of them. At every meal you’ll be struck by the differences between Tuscan and Sardinian cuisine, influenced by merchants and conquerors from Phoenicians to Spanish to Genovese.
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