In my eyes, Tuscany is one of the most important regions of Italy and I could give you a million reasons why. Firstly it is one of the most picturesque regions of the world, with its diverse natural landscape encompassing the Apennine Mountains, olive groves and vineyards on the hills and beaches along its coast facing the one and only Elba Island. Secondly it gives great importance to food and drink and produces some of the best olive oil and wine in Europe. Finally you will find no place as warm as Tuscany, and I'm not talking just about the weather. The people in this region are so genuine and kind and love nothing more than to welcome anyone into their beautiful towns.
Viniculture: Wine Cultivation is very predominant in the agricultural sector. Chianti, Brunelli di Montalcino and Montepulciano are the most known and widely exported wines from this region.
Gastronomy: From a gastronomic point of view, Tuscany is the centre of production. Their produce includes cured meats, cheese, legumes, herbs, soups, egg pasta, meat, fresh fish, seafood and olive oil. Tuscany produces seasonally a great number of things such as in spring, asparagus is prominent. Towards summer, cherries, apricots and peaches are cultivated and in autumn: figs, mushrooms and grapes.
From an antipasto point of view, their traditional dish includes a variety of cured hams, salamis and small toasted bread called bruschetta with foie gras and sometimes a pot of seasoned artichokes.
Very traditional of Florence is the ‘Ribollita’ and ‘Pappa al Pomodoro’. The Ribollita, as it mentions in the name, is a cabbage and bean soup served for a few days after it’s making, hence the name Ribollita, which translates as: reboiled. The papa al pomodoro on the other hand is bread crust softened in vegetable stock and added to a tomato sauce.
Mostly served in the countryside of Tuscany is the famous Pappardelle al rage di cinghiale. This translates as pappardelle pasta served with wild bore ragu. This is by far my favorite dish and the main reason I love this region - wild bore meat is so tender and delicious.
As for the main course, Bistecca alla Fiorentina, in other words is the most traditional plate of the city. I had this steak on my first night in Florence and it comprises of a 1kg T-Bone steak served practically raw. But the meat is so fresh it practically melts in your mouth and you do not notice the fact that it is cooked for something like 1-2 minutes either side
Where to eat in Florence:
I am someone that absolutely hates eating in a touristy restaurant where the food is tasteless and the bill is over priced so I can assure you I would only advise the very best based upon my personal experiences.
Piazza della Republica, 35/R, 50123
For me, Breakfast is the most important meal of the day therefore my priority was to find a perfect spot at a reasonable price to enjoy my cappuccino and croissant. This café is incredible, not only the setting is very elegant and traditional but the prices are exactly what I hoped for. You enter the café and there is a wide selection of pastries and croissants to choose from, ranging from pain au chocolat to apricot twirls to butter croissants to little pastries filled with berries etc . First you pay for the receipt and then you order. On average a coffee, a cappuccino, two croissants and an orange juice was around 15 euros.
Caffè Giacosa- Cavalli caffè:
Via della Spada, 10r, 50123
We asked a lady to advise another breakfast spot and we were told to try this one out. However we hadn't been warned to not sit down outside. Once you take a seat the prices automatically double, therefore instead of paying for a small croissant 90c I paid 1.80, and the cappuccino was 4.80. This café was bought over by the Italian luxury designer Roberto Cavalli, therefore the design is very particular with a prevalence of leopard skin. I advise you have a look and maybe order a café at the bar because it is worth visiting but watch out in not getting ripped off by taking a seat outside.
Via dei Neri, 74/R, 50100
We were the most excited when entering this place. Everywhere and everyone seemed to recommend this eatery so of course we were eager to see what the fuss was all about. All'antico Vinaio is a sandwich parlour during lunch hours which allows you to choose which ingredients to fill your sandwich with. They have all the ingredients out on display so you just chose out of them. The bread is thick pizza that has just come out the oven and they fill it up with whatever you want for a minimum of 5 euros. There always seems to be a massive queue outside but it runs down very quickly.
Piazza Strozzi 14R, 50123
This was the first place we came to in Florence as we were in need of something small to eat and a drink. It was around 5.30 therefore too late to have lunch and too early for dinner - theres only one thing to do in this case and that is go for an aperitivo, In Italy an aperitivo is very big tradition and the favourite time of the day for most, including me. Usually around six you venture to a bar and you order a drink and they bring you small snacks such as crisps, olives, nuts, or others may have a fixed price and include pizza, cold meat platter or bruschette. Each place does it differently and I cannot wait to share with you my favourite aperitif spots. Here the decoration is very particular and super interesting and I would recommend if you find yourself in the neighbourhood to try this place out!
Piazza Strozzi 5, 50123
Colle Bereto is more of a young, modern place to have your aperitivo. With 10 euros you are entitled to a drink of your choice and unlimited access to the buffet. This is a very good deal especially if you aren't planning on a big dinner - the food from the buffet is very Italian; risottos, arancinis, grilled vegetables etc. The atmosphere is very vibrant, full of young people and music in the background. You can tell it is super authentic from the amount of Italians in this place as well !
Piazza Piattellina, 10, 50124
This is a very authentic, traditional restaurant famous for its steaks. I advise you book because the restaurant is frequently fully booked. We ordered a 1kg Steak to divide between the two of us. Along side this we ordered a half litre of house wine, which complimented the steak perfectly. The food was more than delicious, the steak was tender, fresh and top quality meat and the pricing was what we expected, 39 euros for 1kg steak. In Florence the average pricing is 4.50 euros per 100 grams.
L'Osteria di Giovanni:
Via del Moro 22, 50123
L'Osteria di Giovanni is a very atmospheric and romantic restaurant with dimmed lighting and traditional decor. The restaurant is a perfect combination of classic and elegant, and the food does not let it down. We ordered a platter of cured meats and as a main course we both chose the famous Pappardelle al ragù di cinghiale. The food came very quick and the staff is very pleasant. This restaurant is in the medium price range.
Osteria del cinghiale bianco:
Borgo San Iacopo, 43R, 50125
My boyfriend and I walked past this place on our way home from Ponte Vecchio and we fell in love with the sight of a small, sort of hidden authentic tavern. Having looked at the menu the prices were very decent, actually cheaper than other ones we went to so it was a perfect combination – As we arrived in the evening it looked fully booked ( so I recommend you book, especially on the weekend). We were so eager to eat here however that we decided that half an hour wait was worth it. The manager offered us a glass of prosecco each whilst we waited, longingly staring at the beautiful dishes passing by. As we finally sat down I straight away knew what I was getting : Pappardelle with wild bore ragout – immensely flavoursome dish and for a super reasonable price – if you are looking for an authentic restaurant where price meets quality then this is definitely the restaurant you want to hit up.
Via della Spada, 27, 50123 Firenze, Italy
I was incredibly shocked at this restaurant. We had been walking around for ages and we decided to settle of this restaurant, as we were tired of walking around aimlessly and the quality of the food really surprised me. It has a very old school, traditional vibe with wooden walls and a selection of cured meat exposed hanging from the ceiling at the entrance. The menu has a very wide variety of options and the pricing is very low with respect to the high quality of the food. We ordered Penne with ragu to share between two and the waiter was very sweet to ask the chef to bring us an (abbondante) portion. As for our main course we ordered pork with a side of roast potatoes. It is not the classic roast us English expect but it is so delicious in its own way. The potatoes have been sautéed in olive oil and rosemary and as for the pork it is tender and full of flavour. As for the pricing, for two dishes, water, cover charge and a quarter of red wine the bill was 28 euros.