One of the best reasons to go to Italy is for the food and Tuscany – especially Chianti – is no exception! While we were there (and even now, because we brought some stuff back), we enjoyed a range of traditional foods and great produce. From the simple items that we found at the Coop in Radda to the wonderful meats that we purchased in Greve-in-Chianti at Antica Macelleria Falorni, we never had bad food on our trip! While we had several very good experiences at local restaurants, my favorite meals consisted of the wonderful prosciutto and salami produced throughout the area.
While the meat, cheese, and pasta (even the cheap stuff from the Coop) were wonderful, the one thing that we did not enjoy as much was the bread. Traditional Tuscan bread has very little salt (tradition dictates that it has no salt) and therefore is not very good. Some go as far as to say that you should avoid it, but it does come into its own when paired with a bit of nice cheese and prosciutto, such as in a nice sandwich.
The delis, like Falorni in Greve and the place pictured at right in San Gimignano, can be very toursit-y but many of them are solid traditional places, like this one (on the left) that we walked past in Siena while trying to find the Duomo. As a matter of fact, this place smelled amazing (of fresh baked bread) … something that none of the others did!
Of the restaurants that we visited, two stand out …
- Pizza Pie in Radda-in-Chianti (on the Main Road through town, across the street from the Bank) – Maybe because this was the first place that we ate in Italy and we really needed food, this place was excellent. Serving large pizzas, nearly as large at the tables, for two for €14 covered in a variety of traditional toppings, this is an ideal lunch stop. While it clearly served a number of tourists, while we where there, several tables of locals were also crowded into the very small restaurant.
- Da Nerbone in Florence (inside the Mercato San Lorenzo/Centrale) – This is a great little restaurant that is full of tourists and locals alike … including many of the traders that work in/around this central food market. When we went, they had a good selection of pastas, salads, sandwiches, and a great soup – it was some sort of minestrone with wheat. This is definitely a place that you should stop to eat when you visit Florence … you just need to get there early because most of the market closes at 2p. Additionally, expect a jostle to get your food and find a seat … but it is definitely worth it!
And, most importantly, we ate a lot of gelato … Jill’s goal was to have gelato at least once every day that we were in Italy and we came close to it! We had gelato in Greve-in-Chianti (twice, on separate days), in San Gimignano (twice, on the same day), in Siena, in Florence, and at the Pisa Airport. The best gelato that we had was in San Gimignano at Gelateria de Piazza: Pluripremiata Gelateria Artigiana … but it was also one of the tackiest gelato places that we visited! They have an amazing selection of flavors and the best cones that we found … their cones were fresh and, unlike many of the other cones we had, did not taste like cardboard. So, while you are dodging tour buses full of the day-trippers that swarm San Gimignano, duck into the little shop for a cone or two.
Okay, those are my thoughts and experiences concerning food from our short visit to Tuscany …