Tuscany is about not only lovely bucolic landscapes, beautiful medieval hilltop towns and ancient abbeys but also delicious food. Without a doubt, this region is one of the best places to eat in Italy.
Tuscany is famous for its white truffles of San Miniato, Chianina beef, and olive oil. Wine lovers across the world appreciate Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Morellino di Scansano and Sassicaia. Local salami and cheese can bring you to tears and make you want to move to Tuscany!
Each province has its own traditional specialties that tell about history of the place and its people with recipes going many centuries back. For instance, in Siena you can taste pan pepato, peppered fruit and nut cake that was first made in the city in medieval times. The recipe for zuccotto, a traditional sponge cake was invented in Florence during the Renaissance for the lavish banquets that the Medici family loved to organize.
Tuscan cuisine is simple and pure, with many dishes originating as food of the poor peasants that only had seasonal ingredients and imagination at their disposal. The famous chunky soup ribollita (means “re-boiled” in Italian as it was cooked and then re-boiled before serving) is still made as in old days with black cabbage, beans, whatever vegetables you have handy and stale bread. Saying it is simply delicious would be an understatement of the year! Pappa al pomodoro is another dish of the poor calls for ripe tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and stale bread. Today it is served in some of the most sophisticated restaurants in Tuscany.
Tuscans are often called the mangiafagioli (bean-eaters) because many of their traditional dishes are made with beans. You will often see the white cannellini beans served with olive oil and lemon juice as a simple side dish.
The king of the Tuscan cuisine is the bistecca alla fiorentina, thick T-bone steak made from the meat produced in the Chiana valley. It is slightly grilled over wood coals and served with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of black pepper. The gargantuan size of the bistecca alla fiorentina is not for the faint-hearted: one portion is usually 1-2 kg! You will have to eat it as the locals do, slowly, with a lot of good wine.
Photos by: Francesco Sgroi, Marco Varisco, Eliza Adam.