Describing the Tuscan territory means knowing the stories that link it to the products of the land, the cuisine and its characters that have made it famous throughout the world. A trip to UNESCO Tuscany is also a journey through its flavours and typical products, which complete the experience by delighting your senses of taste and smell.
When Catherine dei Medici married Henry II of France, she brought with her a court made up of men gifted with mastery in the culinary arts. At the time, Catherine was followed by a French historian and biographer, Pierre de Bourdeille Brantome, who wrote in the chronicles of the time, about the introduction of the Florentine "carabaccia" onion soup, duck with orange, tripe, "pezzole della nonna in salsa colla", which later became pancakes in bechamel sauce. For the desserts, in addition to the skill in working with sugar also for elaborate decorations, the great sculptor Bernardo Buontalenti created Florentine cream, or Buontalenti cream, a type of ice cream that is still very popular today. Another typical dessert, especially during the carnival period, is the Florentine "schiacciata" cake, simple or the tastier versions filled with whipped cream or custard.
In the various kiosks spread throughout the city, street food offers one of the most typical products of Florentine cuisine, "lampredotto", made from the stomach of a cow, boiled and seasoned with green sauce. The historic taverns in the city centre offer various traditional dishes, from chicken liver crostini (toasted bread) and ribollita to the legendary Florentine steak.
The Pisan territory has an ancient wine tradition. On its hills, DOC wines are produced, such as the famous Montescudaio Rosso. Extra Virgin Olive oil is also one of the area's typical products: the Strada dell'Olio dei Monti Pisani (gastronomical oil route) passes through the municipalities of Vecchiano, San Giuliano Terme, Calci, Buti and Vicopisano, and you can see olive trees, oil mills and taste bruschetta bread in the agri-tourism facilities and farms. The most famous product, however, is the Mucco Pisano, a breed of cattle reared in the San Rossore Park area and can be tasted in local dishes.
Tuscan cuisine is made of simple, very ancient flavours. In Siena, there is a long tradition of confectionery: panforte is linked to the Art of the Medici e Speziali of Siena, ricciarelli to a recipe imported into the Western world from the Arab world, after the return from the Crusades.
Cavallucci (a type of Sienese pastry) date back to the 16th century and owe their name to the fact that they were served at post houses to travellers who stopped to change their horses. Another typical and very rustic sweet food is Pan co’ Santi, which can be found during the All Saints' Day celebration. It is a bread stuffed with walnuts and raisins and flavoured with black pepper.
Tuscany is a land of a thousand resources and, thanks to the clay soils, scented with wild grasses, ancient Pienza pecorino cheese is produced from sheep's milk and is delicacy that was also glorified by Lorenzo the Magnificent.
In the various shops in the historic town centre, it is possible to taste the many varieties of this cheese, along with the traditional cold cuts and porchetta roast pork. Of course, typical local products from the Val d'Orcia can also found in Pienza.
San Gimignano is universally famous for Vernaccia, a very ancient wine praised by poets and writers over the centuries. The best place to experience this wine is the
Centro Vernaccia di San Gimignano Wine Experience
, a place of documentation and for wine tasting.
However, not everyone may know that another highly prized typical product of San Gimignano is saffron, which has been grown here since 1200. Thanks to the special quality of the land, it takes on unique characteristics that have made it a PDO product. As well as in traditional cooking or art, where it was used for painting, there are documents at the Spezieria di Santa Fina apothecary shop that bear witness to the use of this spice in the officinal context.
A visit to San Gimignano also allows you to experience a delicious ice cream, with original flavours linked to local products.
In the Crete Senesi area, in the middle of the Val d'Orcia, at San Giovanni d'Asso, there is a magnificent museum in the basement of the Castle, dedicated to that precious fungus of the earth, the truffle. The truffle was already known by the Sumerians and the Babylonians, was praised by Pliny the Elder and, according to legend, it originated from a bolt of lightning. Festivals and events in the area are linked to this product and you can also taste it on pici, a much loved pasta from the Siena area, which we can trace back to evidence provided by the Etruscans.
Other local products include mushrooms and chestnuts, but the most famous is undoubtedly wine, above all Brunello di Montalcino.
Medici Villas and Gardens
Tuscan cuisine is rustic but it can also be served at a king's table, those same tables that are found in the Medici villas, with local products depicted on the walls and celebrated in the gardens, rich in citrus fruits. These fragrances will accompany you on your visit to the villas along with tastings of local wines, such as Rosso di Carmignano, which makes it worthwhile visiting the Museo della Vite e del Vino (Vine and Wine Museum), not far from the villa di Artimino .
From bell tower to bell tower and from tower to tower, across vineyards and olive groves, you will find cheeses, meats, olive oil and great wines to enrich your meal and the whole travel experience.