Beautiful Tuscany is the land of robust, hearty red wines that perfectly match the big flavors of their meat-centric cooking. Think, for example, of Chianti paired with steak, Brunello di Montalcino paired with beef ragu, and thick ribbons of pasta. With a plethora of great hotels, Florence is a perfect place for food and wine lovers to base themselves, with the culinary and vinous delights of Siena and San Gimignano close at hand too. There are plenty of tours and tour packages that will introduce you to the unforgettable flavors that Tuscany is known for. To learn which specific Italian foods and Italian wines you want to try, keep reading our Tuscany and Florence food and wine travel guide.
Florence Food – Steaks And Markets
In Florence, food culture revolves around two things – its produce markets and steak. The markets are a hub for Florence’s access to amazing vegetables, meats, and fish that are responsible for famous dishes such as Pappardelle al Cinghiale (pasta with wild boar) Tagliatelle Funghi Porcini e Tartufo (pasta with porcini mushrooms and truffle), and crostini – small toasted bread topped with everything from in-season tomatoes to liver pate.
And then there is steak – the famed Bistecca alla Fiorentina. Huge t-bone steaks traditionally cooked over open fires served rare. The Chianina cattle breed – particularly prized for their tasty meat – is responsible for these wonderful steaks. Many of these tours through Florence include ways to sample the regional culinary specialties.
Florence Wine – Chianti
Just outside Florence lies the famous wine region of Chianti. Similar to the aforementioned Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti is made from the Sangiovese grape, but in this region, the wines produce a more herbal note, along with the ubiquitous flavors of sour cherry and strawberry. Discover the region where the magic happens and learn all about Chianti production on a Taste of Chianti 4×4 Back Road Safari Tour. It will surely make you a fan of the variety.
Siena Food – Pasta, Soup And Almonds
Taking inspiration from the forests and surrounding agricultural areas, Siena’s food is simple and rustic. But don’t underestimate it – the flavors are deep and pack a punch! Pici and wild boar ragu is a local favorite – a famous pasta dish with thick, hand-rolled eggless pasta. Ribollita also originates in Siena – a hearty stew made with bread, beans, and vegetables. Finally, if you’re in Siena, try ricciarelli, a sweet delicacy of the area of chewy almond biscuits. A Tuscan cooking class is a perfect introduction to this bountiful corner of Italy. Be sure to check out the rest of our Siena tours to explore what else you can find there.
Siena Wine – Brunello di Montalcino
Just an hour from Montalcino, Siena is home to one of the most premium red wines in Italy, Brunello di Montalcino. It’s made from Sangiovese, Tuscany’s star red grape, and produces wines with sour cherry and spicy flavors. Its flavors are further accentuated by the time it – by law – spends in large oak barrels which lend texture and complexity. A Brunello di Montalcino winery tour will tell you everything you need to know about this gorgeous wine. Or instead, combine the tasting with lunch in a Tuscan Castle for an unforgettable combination of cuisine and atmosphere.
San Gimignano Wine – Vernaccia de San Gimignano
The little-known grape variety Vernaccia has made its home in the hills surrounding the UNESCO World Heritage site that is San Gimignano. Unusually for Tuscany, it’s a white grape variety, which makes crisp, aromatic, dry whites, not dissimilar to Sauvignon Blanc. Despite being seemingly out of place, these wines are must-tries for any white wine aficionado. They pair beautifully with the vegetable-heavy dishes of the region such as ribollita and roasted vegetables primavera.
San Gimignano Food – Ice Cream And Slow Food
Housed in an old prison, Osteria del Carcere is one of the local’s favorite restaurants in San Gimignano. This traditional restaurant is dedicated to the slow food movement, an Italian movement against fast-food culture. Save room for dessert because you can’t visit San Gimignano without heading to Gelateria Dondoli. This ice cream shop has consistently won awards for the best ice cream in the world and with good reason. The milk used is from a local dairy, the ingredients are organic, and the flavor combinations are unusual and inspired.
Tuscany Is A Wine And Food Lover’s Heaven
Be prepared to visit this region with an empty stomach because eating and drinking your way around Tuscany is a full-time job! Get a small taste of all the highlights of Tuscany on our San Gimignano, Chianti, Siena & Monteriggioni tours. Or opt for an informative culinary experience with one of our best cooking classes in Tuscany. You can also embark on a marvelous 6-day journey through Tuscany that combines culinary delights, culture, history, and more.
If you feel like you need to work off some calories after visiting Tuscany, a hiking tour of Cinque Terre could be just the ticket. Be sure to try their famous focaccia while you’re at it. Through-and-through foodies will love the 13-Day Italy Food & Wine Journey, where you will taste and master the local flavors of each region in Italy. Whatever you do, don’t miss Tuscany and Florence for food and wine. Your stomach will never forgive you for it.