12 Best Foods to Try (and wine, of course)!
Guest blogger Maggie Johnson of The Artful Everyday, a passionate traveler who lived in Florence for an extended time, walks us through the region’s most delicious and defining cuisine. You can be sure that we’ll sample as many as possible on our upcoming trips in Tuscany!
One of the main draws for people traveling to Italy is the food and wine, rightfully so. The country is not only known for its love of food, but for producing some of the best-known wines in the world. Talk to any Italian and you will see the passion they have for the dishes and drinks native to their hometown. Food heritage is one of the best ways to understand the country, and it is the pride of the Italian people and their unique regions.
A visit to Tuscany can be nothing short of a foodie or wine lover’s dream. The rolling hills and lush landscape of the whole region is indescribably beautiful, and a traveler can fall in love with it even before taking a bite of food or a sip of wine! Each region in Italy is home to different delicacies and traditional dishes, and Tuscany is no exception. From beans to boar, here are the items you must try while you’re spending time under the Tuscan sun...
Tuscan food is often hearty and this soup is the perfect example. Made with cabbage, beans, onions, and carrots, it’s the perfect simple meal on a cold day.
2. Pappa al Pomodoro
A thick tomato soup made with bread (so yes, if you dip bread in your soup you’ll basically just be having bread-on-bread). It’s a delicious Tuscan zuppa to get your meal started off on the right note.
3. Wild Boar
Here me out on this one! Boars are overpopulated in Tuscany, so they are commonly found on the menu in trattorias, typically paired with a wider pasta such as pappardelle or tagliatelle. Imagine a steaming, hearty plate of pasta placed in front of you, with tender pieces of wild boar and an aroma that will reach deep into your soul.
4. Bistecca Fiorentina
For the meat-lovers out there, this is about as serious as a steak can get. Many diners opt to share the large portion of this steak. Don’t be afraid when it comes out looking rare, this is exactly how it’s supposed to be served.
This delicacy is not for the faint of heart. Only in Italy could cow guts be considered tasty! Lampredotto is just that: the fourth stomach of the cow, made into a sandwich, and often served from small street vendors.
It wouldn’t be Italy if there wasn’t a different type of bread for each region. Schiacciata is purely Tuscan, and is sometimes made with olives or tomatoes in the dough. If you’re lucky enough to be in Tuscany during the fall, try schiacciata all’uva, a flat bread made with fresh, ripe grapes.
7. Prosciutto di Cinta Senese
Try it on a panino or at aperitivo (which might be Italy’s best invention). If you’re unfamiliar, aperitivo is a time to meet with friends and have a drink before dinner. It always includes food, either buffet-style or served to your table, as Italians hardly ever drink without food. Follow suit and enjoy the prosciutto and other high-end cold cuts that might come your way.
8. Pecorino di Pienza
Otherwise known as sheep’s cheese, pecorino is a Tuscan staple, and for good reason. Try a drop of aged balsamic on it for a delightful little bite!
On literally anything. Truffles are valuable little morsels of heaven, found by special dogs trained to hunt for them in the forests of Tuscany. You’ll know why they’re so expensive and sought after once you’ve tasted pasta with truffle shavings, or olive oil infused with truffle. It’s pure magic.
10. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Tuscany is not only home to vineyards but it's also a gold mine in terms of olive groves that produce liquid green gold...olive oil! Once you’ve tasted the real deal it’s hard to go back. Tip: when you join Traverse Journey’s trip to Italy, you’ll support and visit a local organization dedicated to preserving the unique and particular heritage of Italian Olive oil. From planting, to cultivating, to raw extraction, you’ll gain incredible insight into this delicacy and contribute towards it’s preservation for generations to come.
11. Aged Balsamic
This is one of those things, like olive oil, that you don’t know what you’ve been missing until you’ve had the best of its kind. The thick, aged, drips-like-honey balsamic that has been waiting for years to be tasted simply must be enjoyed, so use your privilege while you can. I had some of the best aged balsamic while visiting vineyards in Chianti, a short ride from Florence.
The biscotti of Tuscany. This cookie is best enjoyed after a meal, dipped in vin santo.
To wash it all down…
Chianti Classico: no one can travel throughout Tuscany without enjoying a glass of Chianti Classico (the added Classico label means its from the region between Florence and Siena).
Brunello di Montalcino: this red hails from the town of Montalcino, just south of Florence. This area has one of the warmest climates in Tuscany, so its grapes typically ripen a week before everyone else’s. It is one of Italy’s most-expensive and best-known wines, for good reason.
Rosso Di Montalcino: grown in the same region as the Brunello, the Rosso is aged for less time than its counterpart to give vineyards more flexibility when selling their wine.
Sangiovese: the famous Tuscan grape is responsible for some of the best wines in the world. If you do a wine tasting at any vineyard, you’re sure to try a smooth Sangiovese.
Super Tuscan: this type of wine is made by blending Sangiovese with a non-indigenous grape. The result are creative, high quality red wines for every type of wine drinker.
I hope you enjoy your culinary journey through Tuscany. Check out my suggestions for the best places to try some of the options listed above in my guide for Where to Eat in Florence . Buon viaggio e buon appetito!
We don’t know about you, but we can’t wait to eat our way through the list above on our next small group trip to Italy! Each trip is led by an Italian-native passionate about the regions visited and their unique culinary traditions. Experience all the yum and learn more about the heritage and traditions that surround each delectable bite.