Culinary specialties from Tuscany

Tuscany is a region rich in authentic, local dishes and ingredients and in addition to the most famous there are hundreds of lesser-known specialities that are no less important. From the Apuan Alps to the seaside, from the Casentino to the Val d'Orcia, Tuscany boasts numerous 'taste' itineraries that unite good food with centuries-old art and culture. The natural landscape in Tuscany is also a great way to explore the more authentic aspects of the region's culinary culture, like its food, wine and locally sourced ingredients.

Get lost in Tuscany's wine country, from Montalcino's award-winning Brunello to Montepulciano's Vino Nobile and you won't be disappointed! Other unforgettable reds are found in Chianti, and the region also produces noteworthy white wines like Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Wine makers in Tuscany still use the traditional techniques of yore in the wine making process so be sure to take a tour in a local producer's cellar!

In Versilia and along the Etruscan coast, you'll find not only beautiful coastlines but also great foods, wines and fish-based specialities.

The list of local Tuscan specialties is never ending.

Strong tastes like cheeses, salamis, and home-made sweets can be found along the Apennines, for example castagnaccio is a typical cake made with chestnut flour.

Colonnata Lard
Colonnata lard is made in the town of Colonnata, a few kilometres from Carrara in the Apuane Alps. This fine salami is made from pork lard which is cured in local Carrara marble. Layers of lard are alternated with herbs such as pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, sage and rosemary and the maturation time can last anything from 6 to 10 months. The lard can be served just melting on hot pieces of toast.

Testaroli are an unusual type of fresh pasta made from an egg-free dough that is first fried like a crepe and then briefly plunged into boiling water before serving a specialty of Lunigiana, an isolated valley area along the border of Liguria and Tuscany. Another typical product of Lunigiana is Panigaccio, flat bread from Podenzana. It’s a round and flat bread which is cooked on special terracotta plates called ‘testi’ which are placed directly in the fire.

Biroldo salami
A specialty of ancient flavours from the Garfagnana area is the Biroldo salami. Its principal ingredient is pig’s head with a little heart and tongue. Spices are added to give an extra special flavour, such as wild fennel, cloves, cinnamon, coriander or aniseed. Wild fennel is a fundamental ingredient, whereas use of the other spices varies from village to village.

San Miniato Truffles
For those interested in truffles and truffle-based dishes, San Giovanni d'Asso and San Miniato are the towns were this famous ingredient is found. The white truffle from this area is a highly recognized and prestigious ingredient.

In Florence there is a huge variety of flavours of home made ice cream, meat specialties like lampredotto and trippa and there is the Florentine steak, which is traditionally made from Chianina cows, one of the oldest and most important breeds of cow in Italy which has adapted to the hilly landscape of the Valtiberina area. The herds live undisturbed in the open air from May to November when they are moved back into cowsheds. This kind of life guarantees well-flavoured meat which is rich in nutrients. 
Every year in May there is an ice cream festival in Florence.

Altopascio bread
Traditional Altopascio bread is made without yeast and like all Tuscan bread, without salt. Instead of yeast, a particular dough mix is used called ‘sconcia’ to help it to rise. It is made around Tau (in the province of Lucca) and also near Porcari, Montecarlo and Castelfranco di Sotto. The bread is either square (‘bozza’) or long (‘filone’) in shape, it’s soft on the inside and has a crunchy, light golden crust. Its particular flavour comes from the local water used in the recipe.

Pine nuts (pinoli)
Pine nuts (pinoli) are grown all around the Mediterranean and come from the kind of pine trees that grow in the Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli Park (Pisa). The pine cones are harvested when they are still closed and are left in the sun to open up naturally. The shelled pine nuts are then left to dry. Pine nuts from San Rossore carry an official quality certification which is only awarded to organic food products. They are  available all year and are used in many sweet and savoury dishes.

Cinta senese
Siena has Pici pastaRibollita soup and prosciutto and salami from Cinta Senese, an ancient, rustic breed of pig which is traditionally reared in its most natural wild state. ‘Ribollita’, gets its name from the fact that left over soup from lunch would be traditionally reheated and served again in the evening. Ribollita is a typically winter dish because the main ingredient – Tuscan kale – is an exclusively winter vegetable.

Tuscan Pecorino cheese
When you think of cheese and Tuscany your mind goes to the winding hills of Val d’Orcia, where you find Pienza. You can define Pienza as the home of cheese, a small town famous for its architectures also has excellent sheep's milk cheese, pecorino, produced in the area around the townSoft Pecorino cheese is aged for at least 20 days, while the aged one for at least 4 months. During these months the rounds are regularly washed and turned. Prolonged maturation times further enhance flavor and color, making them more intense and compacting the cheese.

Local Elban wines, liqueurs and grappas are not to be missed.
The most typical wine of the Island of ElbaAleatico Passito, has an intense ruby red colour with purple reflections and a characteristic aroma which is both strong and persistent. It is usually drunk at the end of the meal.
Scottiglia is a dish made with day-old bread and a meat sauce made with veal, pork, chicken, turkey, rabbit and – but only if you like – lamb. It is usually served as a soup with a dark red colour, and a strong, layered flavour. It is a typical peasant dish which was served to farm workers, the rich sauce poured over slices of day-old bread. Local woodsmen recount that it was traditional to carry a supply of the sauce into the woods with them, heating it at lunch and pouring it over the bread to eat.

Delicious fried dough, covered with powdered sugar, ’Cenci’ are typical sweets that are often prepared throughout Tuscany during Carnival. These delicious treats are made with fried dough and covered with powdered sugar. In Italian, their name means ‘rags’ because that’s exactly what these haphazard squares look like. They’re golden, crispy, light and easy to prepare.

For those who are interested in more information or recipes of one of these local specialties, don’t hesitate to contact us, or even better come and visit Tuscany to explore the territory and its ancient, local specialties known all over the world.

Farmholidays in Pienza with stunning view

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