Tuscany food has always been considered as ‘cucina povera’ or ‘cuisine of the poor’ closely interconnected with peasant traditions. The poor roots of this cuisine though caused by the poverty of the people of this region in the past, today has become the land of superb food and wine.
The Art of Cucina Povera – The poor man cookery style.
If you ask me to give few attributes to cucina Toscana than two will be the best to describe it, simplicity and ingenuity. As many other regional cuisines, the Tuscan was and continues to be attached to rural traditions using a range of excellent natural ingredients.
It’s not a secret that other Italians still call Tuscans ‘mangiafagioli’ (bean eaters) – an unjust label, but refer to the region’s simple ingredients. Not all the food in Tuscany has humble roots.
Florentines will tell you proudly that they invented many of the great dishes of French cuisine. Of course this is attributed to Medici family, more precisely to Catherine de’ Medici after her marriage (1534) to Henry de Valois, the future king Henri II of France. As an excellent connoisseur of Florence food she had transferred some typical Florence dishes at the France court.
Thanks to Catherine some Florentine dishes were assimilated by France court such as ‘papero alla melarancio’ (duck in orange sauce) which became ‘canard à l’orange’ or ‘zuppa di cipolle’ (onion soup), in France become ‘soupe d’oignons’. Beside these dishes Catherine also introduced to French court how to use two essentials of the modern table – the fork and the napkin.
Tuscan style cookery in the modern times.
Today’s Tuscan food contains plenty of sophisticated dishes that that wouldn’t dishonour to tables of restaurants in London, Paris or New York. Most of this food is seasonal and locally produced, and it only appears at the time of the year it is grown.
To give you an idea of Tuscan food delights, we can start from breakfast that consists of simply coffee and croissant (brioche). The lunch and dinner begin with starters or antipasti like bruschetta or Florence crostini (slice of toasted Tuscan salt less bread) topped with olive paste, chicken liver pate and a variety of hams, cheese and salamis.
The ample use of beans, lentils and legumes.
As the first course in Tuscany, pasta is less used than in other parts of Italy, instead soups are more popular as minestrone (vegetable soups), zuppa di fagioli (beans soup) or famous ribollita (reboiled) white beans and cabbage soup, papa al pomodoro (bread and tomatoes soup).
Among classic pasta meals we must mention ‘pappardelle alla lepre’ based on home-made pasta with a hare sauce. The game meat has very important role in Tuscan cuisine, particularly wild boar and hare. This list wouldn’t be complete without uncontested king of Florentine main courses, ‘bistecca alla florentina ‘ (T-bone steak).
The Tuscan sweets.
When we come to desserts than the winner is gelato (ice-cream). Gelato means ‘frozen‘in Italian, so it embraces the various kinds of ice cream made in Italy. It’s not a secret that the best gelato you can taste in Florence. There is also a Firenze Gelato Festival from in May from 23rd to 27th, important event to taste the best artisan ice cream. It’s worth mentioning some of the many regional specialities like ‘panforte di Siena’ a rich cake made of cocoa, walnuts and crystallized fruit dating from 13th century.
While eating well in Tuscany you can also drink well whatever the time of day and whatever the season. Good coffee is must have in almost every bar and café, from the breakfast cappuccino or café latte to the after dinner espresso. Don’t miss fresh squeezed orange, lemon or grapefruit juice (spremuta). Closer to sundown you may want one of the classic aperitif such as Campari or Negroni, during Happy Hour.
The Tuscan wines are the kings of the dining table.
While eating you will probably ask for a bottle of good Tuscan wine, like Chianti, Tuscany’s most famous red wine or some “super Tuscans’ reds. Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are the big names that perfectly match all Tuscan dishes. After dinner you will need one of the Italian digestives as Grappa, a spirit distillated from grapes, Amaro ‘bitter’ made of herbs and ‘secret ingredients’. Emilia Delizia offers Chianti wine tours from Florence via our sister site.
After all these food and drink offers we hope you are convinced that eating is a passion for Tuscany that visitor can easily share. We are sure it will be experience as memorable as visits to the best museums and galleries.
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My boyfriend and I thoroughly enjoyed the Foodies Tour, which included stops at producers of cheese, balsamic vinegar and cured meat. Paolo was an amazing tour guide – he's extremely knowledgeable, kind and a great communicator. We learned so much! It was really nice to be in a smaller group and most of the producers we visited were small so we were able to get a close up view of the processes. We'd highly recommend Emilia Delizia as this tour was truly authentic and a highlight of our trip!
thank you for the kind review
The tour of the Parmesan Reggiano cheese dairy, Balsamic Vinegar farm, the Parma ham and lunch at the organic vineyard was thoroughly enjoyed by our family of 4. Paolo was a gracious and knowledgeable host for the day and provided us with insights to the production of the cheese and balsamic vinegar which was enhanced due to his chemistry background. We would thoroughly recommend this tour to those interested in the specialities produced in the Modena region.
We had a wonderful tour, best part about visiting the Modena region!
The tour was perfect. I think Paolo would be a splendid ambassador for Italy in the EU. He knows how excellent Italian food and eating together can solve many major problems, and can stop aggressive behavior. Not the hunt for more money, but the well being of family and friends counts. Paolo shows us the products of ages of civilization and he did this like an artist. So after the tour we really love Italia more and we'll come back. We will call you Paolo, Thanks!
Following two tours with your guides this week I would like to express my thanks for some wonderful experiences.
Monday we did the tour of cheese making, balsamic and Salami which was very good and the guide Paolo was very knowledgeable.
The truffle hunt tour today was absolutely amazing, the guide Stefano is pure gold and the tour was built with much thought. Our best experience so far, by far.
Looking forward to more tours and fun next time we are in Italy.
The group (and me) was VERY satisfied. We really enjoyed the Parmegiano Regiano which was interesting and we got to buy some delicate and cheap cheese, the same with the balsamico. The Ferrari driving was off course an experience for life. The Winery lunch felt very genuine and the people there was really welcoming and nice people. The genuine feeling there was however the big plus for us.
Paolo was excellent as our guide. He also felt very genuine. He did not talk just for the sake of talking, but when he had something to say he did it in a respectful and nice way. Everyone in the group really liked him.
I wanted to let you know what a great day we had this past Friday on our tour with Jacamo. (Probably not spelling it right) He was very nice and explained everything to us. It sure gives you a new appreciation when you are slicing cheese. 🙂 Our tour ended with him taking us to the vineyard for a tour and lunch and there, Paolo, the owner could not have been more nicer. It was a perfect ending.
Please let Jacamo know what a great job he did and how much we really appreciated it and his knowledge
The website is well structured and we received a prompt answer to all questions. Gabriele supported us with all information we needed and the organization before the trip was excellent.
We had an air conditioned van, which was very relaxing through the whole tour. The first stop was the parmigiano production, which was very impressive and interesting. We could learn and especially see all the different steps and even taste the various aged parmigiano. The second step was the balsamic vinegar tasting. Finally the meat part was interesting in the museum but we hoped that we also could see more about the production and their work, but the tasting was delicious. In overall we had a very informative and well accommodated half day with our guide
It was great experience! We visited Parmesan cheese production, Balsamic vinegar farm, Ham museum and Farmer's lunch. Our guide gave us a detailed explanation, we were very satisfied. An excellent tour for a reasonable price, highly recommended.
Nous sommes une famille de cinq et nous avons adoré notre expérience. Les trois endroits étaient choisis judicieusement. Notre guide était très généreuse et super gentille. Nous recommandons ce tour ( parmesan, vinaigre balsamique et jambon de parme).