Knife and fork at the ready, we’re about to take you on the ultimate foodie trip through Tuscany. In no particular order, these are 10 of the tastiest, not-to-be-missed Tuscan treats worth packing loose clothing for…
Roughly translated as “tomato mush”, this thick, gloopy tomato soup won’t be winning beauty prizes anytime soon but locals will tell you it’s been made with love for generations by every doting Tuscan Nonna.
Mixing Tuscany’s finest ingredients including tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil and finely chopped stale bread, Pappa al Pomodoro is pure comfort food – think of it as a big warm hug in a bowl.
Where to try: Chianciano Terme
There’s a reason why this “white belted” black pig is spoken about in hushed tones. The Cinta Senese’s Tuscan heritage stretches back as far as medieval times.
Cured, cooked traditionally or sliced into squares of lard, it’s melt-in-the-mouth incredible. Even the fat tastes good…
Where to try: il Poggio, Famiglia Gori Bartolini, Siena
Raised in Tuscany for over 2200 years, Chianina is one of the oldest and largest cattle breeds in the world.
Originally bred as working animals for ploughing the local fields, today the quality of the beef is appreciated all over the world.
Whether served as thinly sliced carpaccio or ground into a meaty burger, the flavour is clean and tender – absolute heaven for carnivores.
Where to try: Sinalunga
The traditional ending to any Tuscan meal, Vin Santo is an amber-coloured sweet dessert wine made from carefully selected Malvasia and Grechetto grapes left to dry until February or March and aged for up to five years.
Where to try: Vittorio Innocenti’s 13th century wine cellar in Montefollonico.
Take a tour of the medieval townhouse with its ancient looking barrels, if you’re lucky, the owner might even offer you a glass of the velvety 20 year old vintage.
A table staple at breakfast, lunch and dinner, Pecorino Toscano is a milder, sweeter and softer cheese than its southern relations, Pecorino Romano, Sardo and Siciliano. The buttery, nutty flavour is the perfect accompaniment to Pici (see no. 7) or a robust glass of red. Or both.
Where to try: Pienza, Siena
Known as Cantucci in Tuscany and Biscotti elsewhere in Italy, we’re including these twice-baked almond cookies as a companion to no. 4, Vin Santo.
Together the two are a match made in dunking heaven. Forget your usual rich tea and milky brew, this is a far sweeter after-dinner affair.
Where to try: All good bars and restaurants serving Vin Santo
Not only does Pici have dozens of Facebook pages dedicated in its honour but it also counts Sienna Miller as a fan – the actress says it’s one of her favourite dishes.
So what’s so special about this fat, flat pasta? For one, it’s painstakingly hand-rolled. Tuscan cooks prepare the dough by rolling long strips between their hands onto a flour-dusted table.
Secondly, it’s made using just two ingredients – flour and water, making it an extremely versatile partner for rich tomato or creamy truffle sauces.
Where to try: Siena
According to historians, Montepulciano’s Vino Nobile has been appreciated by wine lovers since the end of the 18th century.
The Sangiovese wine variety (known in Tuscany as Prugnolo Gentile) is the essence of the wine, while a minimum two-year ageing process is the secret behind its distinctive taste.
Where to try: Visit the family-run Crociani wine cellar in Montepulciano
Good Tuscan prosciutto is salty, chewy and served straight onto the table ‘just hacked’ off the whole ham. Enjoy with chunks of saltless Tuscan bread.
Where to Try: Siena
Tuscany’s olive oil is so rich in goodness that ancient Etruscan settlers are said to have slathered themselves daily in its liquid gold.
Where to Try: For an equally immersive (but less messy) experience, check out olive oil tasting with Chianti Olive Oil Tours, Chianti.
- Fiona Hilliard