If you’re the type of person who loves their food and wine, then I guarantee that Tuscany is a ‘foodies’ dream destination.
Situated in central Italy, it boasts stunning countryside, beautiful green rolling hills, and cities and towns flourishing in ancient history. And to top it all off, Tuscan cuisine is deliciously unforgettable. It’s known for its traditional uncomplicated hearty recipes, using only the best in fresh quality local ingredients.
Set on the top of a hill, we stayed in an incredible seven-bedroom traditional country home, VILLA LE TORNAIE. Overlooking local vineyards, it’s was the perfect spot to embrace a slower pace of life, take in the Tuscan air and prepare to embark on the best Tuscan ‘foodie’ experience.
During many travels to Italy, I have discovered that there are plenty of ways of immersing yourself into local food culture; and I’m not talking about taking a standard food tour.
So if you want to find out more, read on to find out my top three ‘foodie’ pointers to having the best Tuscan food experience.
Visit a typical Tuscan trattoria.
As many food lovers can appreciate, we want to make sure we don’t go home without tasting local specialities.
I believe the best way to avoid this from happening is to find a trattoria, osteria or restaurant that predominately cooks regional dishes. Within minutes of arriving anywhere, I’m keen to ask locals for suggestions, whether its the Airbnb host, taxi driver or a market trader. My most memorable meals in Italy have been when someone has recommended their favourite spots.
Like all other Italian regions, Tuscany takes in pride in several local recipes. Such dishes include ribollita (a vegetable bean stew), Pappa al Pomodoro (a hearty tomato and bread soup) and Bistecca Fiorentina ( a T-bone steak, from a unique cattle bred on the Chiana valley.).
On our latest trip to Tuscany, we visited Nonna Gina, a traditional osteria down the back street of historic Siena. A hand-written menu, knowledgable staff and great quality produce, led to an unforgettable meal.
Take a cooking class.
Another great way to experience local food is to learn to cook it yourself.
Tuscany is brimming with cooking schools. There are so many to choose from. However, if you do decide to stay in a Tuscan villa, why not bring the cooking school to you. At Mansalto, they arranged Laura and Gianluca from Cooking in Florence to give us a class in the setting and comfort of our stunning Tuscan kitchen.
They guided us through how to create a four-course meal, only using the best in Tuscan ingredients — a super fun, relaxed, interactive class, followed by a sit-down dinner. They talked us through each recipe, step by step, shared interesting food tips and made sure we were as hands-on as possible. Plus, I don’t think we laughed as much on that whole trip. Laura and Gianluca made us feel so comfortable.
Their delicious recipes were so simple and easy to follow, which only gave us the confidence to want to recreate those Tuscan classics back home. Plus, it was a great way to get a real feel for the local cooking.
Go on a wine tasting tour.
I love a wine tasting tour to immerse into the local culture, especially in Tuscany.
You only have to drive around the countryside to see fields filled with rows of grapevines.
So it goes without saying that it’s one of Italy’s top wine regions.
The Sangiovese grape is at the very heart of it. Their fruity, aromatic aroma can be detected in almost all Tuscan top wines.
Popular wines include the Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino amongst many more.
So what’s better than a wine tasting tour to hear stories, see the vineyards, cellars, finishing up with drinking and enjoying the local wine. I mean, how can you say no..right?
So, there you have my top three tips to having the best Tuscan food experience.
Visiting another country or location, is always an insight into how other people live, their habits and culture. Food is inevitably part of that experience. So for me, spending time with locals, learning their recipes, enjoying their food and wine, listening to their history gives me more than a full belly. I take away a little bit of their culture home with me. To me that’s priceless.