With close to 7,500 kilometers of coastline, 6,000 rivers over 100 kilometers long, a maze of streams and brooks, 2,700 square kilometers of lakes and a huge area of lagoons, ponds and oxbows, it's clear that in Italy life and water are closely intertwined. As a result, fish and seafood have deep roots in the peninsula's gastronomy: just think of garum, the fermented fish sauce made from mackerel, sardines and anchovies that was an essential element in Ancient Roman cuisine.
Much of Italian cuisine is based on fish, and different regions use an incredible variety of different types and different cooking methods. These regional variations come from geography, culture and history, reflected in dishes like Trapani's fish couscous, Livorno's caciucco soup or Piedmont's anchovies in green sauce. Piedmont is land-locked, but salted anchovies were one of the products transported from the Ligurian sea over the hills and mountains to the Piedmontese plains along the Vie del Sale, the salt roads. The Italian peninsula is rich in similar examples of dishes deriving from cultural blendings and trading patterns-the list could go on for pages.
Sadly today this great diversity is at risk of disappearing, as are the traditions and role of small-scale fishers. Some species are now threatened, while others are not in demand and so have disappeared from the fishmonger's display, in Italy as well as the rest of the world.
And yet there is still a wealth of sustainable, delicious and cheap fish to be discovered. In this section we will be collecting examples of recipes using sustainable, local species, contributed by fishers, restaurants, cooks or consumers from around Italy who are working to bring the Slow Fish campaign to their local area.