Beautiful Tuscany is the land of robust, hearty red wines which perfectly match the big flavours of their meat-centric cooking. Think Chianti paired with steak, Brunello di Montalcino paired with beef ragu and thick ribbons of pasta. With a plethora of great hotels, Florence is a perfect place for a food and wine lover to base themselves, with the culinary and vinous delights of Siena and San Gimignano close at hand too. This is our Tuscany and Florence food and wine travel guide.
Florence Food – Steaks And Markets
Florence’s food culture revolves around two things – its produce markets and steak. The markets are a hub for Florence’s access to amazing vegetables, meats and fish that are responsible for famous dishes such as Pappardelle al Cinghiale (pasta with wild boar) Tagliatelle Funghi Porcini e Tartufo (pasta with porcini mushrooms and truffle) and crostini – small toasted breads topped with everything from in-season tomatoes to liver pate.
And then there is steak – the famed Bistecca alla Fiorentina. Huge t-bone steaks traditionally cooked over open fires, served rare. The Chianina cattle breed – particularly prized for their tasty meat – is responsible for these wonderful steaks.
Florence Wine – Chianti
Just outside Florence lies the famous wine region of Chianti. Similar to the aforementioned Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti is made from the Sangiovese grape, but in this region, the wines produce a more herbal note, along with the ubiquitous flavours of sour cherry and strawberry.
Siena Food – Pasta, Soup And Almonds
Taking inspiration from the forests and surrounding agricultural areas, Siena’s food is simple, rustic and deeply flavoured. Pici and wild boar ragu is a particular favourite – a famous pasta dish with thick, hand-rolled eggless pasta. Ribollita also originates in Siena – a hearty stew made with bread, beans and vegetables. Finally, if you’re in Siena, try ricciarelli, a sweet delicacy of the area of chewy almond biscuits.
A Tuscan cooking class is a perfect introduction to this bountiful corner of Italy.
Siena Wine – Brunello di Montalcino
Siena is just an hour from Montalcino, home to one of the most premium red wines in Italy, Brunello di Montalcino. A Brunello di Montalcino winery tour will tell you everything you need to know about this gorgeous wine, made from the Sangiovese grape. Sangiovese is Tuscany’s star red grape and produces wines with sour cherry and spicy flavours. Its flavours are further accentuated by the time it – by law – spends in large oak barrels which lend texture and complexity.
San Gimignano Wine – Vernaccia de San Gimignano
Little known grape variety Vernaccia has made its home in the hills surrounding the UNESCO world heritage site that is San Gimignano. Unusually for Tuscany, it’s a white grape variety, which makes crisp, aromatic, dry whites, not dissimilar to Sauvignon Blanc. They pair beautifully with the vegetable-heavy dishes of the region such as ribollita and roasted vegetables primavera.
San Gimignano Food – Ice Cream And Slow Food
Housed in an old prison, Osteria del Carcere is one of the local’s favourite restaurants in San Gimignano. This traditional restaurant is dedicated to the slow food movement, an Italian movement against fast-food culture.
Save room for dessert because you can’t visit San Gimignano without heading to Gelateria Dondoli. This ice cream shop has consistently won awards for the best ice cream in the world and with good reason. The milk used is from a local dairy, the ingredients are organic and the flavour combinations are unusual and inspired.
Tuscany Is A Wine And Food Lover’s Heaven
Be prepared to visit this region with an empty stomach because eating and drinking your way around Tuscany is a full-time job! But if you feel like you need to work off some calories, a hiking tour of Cinque Terre could be just the ticket. Be sure to try their famous focaccia whilst you’re at it. Whatever you do, don’t miss Tuscany and Florence for food and wine. Your stomach will never forgive you for it.