Must Try Food in Tuscany

Top foods to try in Tuscany

Most people agree that Italy has outstanding food and of course it isn’t all pizza and pasta, what many don’t realise is that Italian cooking is very regional – Lasagne is from Emilia Romana, Carbonara from Rome and pasta with pesto originates from Genoa. Tuscany is famous for landscapes wine and of course food, particularly meat and game. We have put together a list of the most popular Tuscan foods you should try when visiting, don’t worry if you haven’t heard of them; not only do traditional dishes vary per region but even from town to town.

If you want to know more about Tuscan food or perhaps learn to cook some dishes yourself, there are myriad options for taking cooking classes from learning how to make pizza and fresh pasta to entire day experiences where you shop for your ingredients, cook the meal and then sit down to enjoy it, or you could even do a week long cooking course if you like!

Top foods to try in Tuscany


These underground mushrooms are prized throughout the world for their flavour.  They are best eaten fresh grated or shaved on top of pasta, risotto – anything you like really.  Because they are seasonal, unless you are in Tuscany in the Autumn the availability of truffles varies.  If you are on holiday in November you can look for truffle festivals and even go out with a truffle hunter.

Truffles are expensive, because they are highly sought after but more so because they are difficult to find.  They grow underground in hilly, wooded areas dense with oak, hazel and pine trees.  The problem is harvesting them – to do this, animals with a keen sense of smell are required.  Historically pigs were used as they have an innate ability to seek out the truffles, however it is difficult to stop them eating this precious commodity.  These days dogs are used in Italy to protect the truffles but also the production rate.

You will find many dishes flavoured with truffle.  Remember even a simple pasta dish will be priced higher once a few shavings of the ‘golden mushroom’ is added – although it is well worth it!  Truffles only last around 5 days in the fridge, another reason for their price.  As we said above, fresh truffle is the best way to consume it; but what if you want to take some home with you;  the best option is to buy truffle infused oil (you only need a few drops to permeate the dish) or a sort of pesto.  However, when looking for products to take home make sure that the product you buy is from fresh truffles and not with ‘aroma’, i.e. truffle flavouring!


Wild boar (cinghiale)

One of the things you should definitely eat when in Tuscany is Cinghiale or wild boar.  Not only is it absolutely delicious, you would also be helping the locals protect their agriculture.  Wild boar are a nightmare for farmers with corn and polenta crops and also for vineyards.  They are strong muscly creatures with tusks that like to root in the earth and dig up whatever they can searching for food.

Because they are detrimental to the landscape and food production they are widely hunted and so widely available in the region in all forms including salami.  As a primi (pasta course) you will find ravioli or the traditional pappardelle al cinghiale which is a ragu made with red wine and tomatoes.  As a second course often served in the form of a stew served with polenta.  A traditional way to serve it is in an agrodolce sauce (sweet and sour).  The speciality is Cinghiale dolce e forte (strong and sweet) which uses a red wine, cloves, bitter chocolate, dried prunes or sultanas and pine nuts. All of these are delicious, the boar meat has a rich, gamey flavour unlike pork which goes well with those sauces and of course a glass of Tuscan wine!


T-bone steak or Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Steak in Italy comes in different shapes and sizes which varies region by region – depending where you come from, you may be disappointed by an Italian steak.  Not in Tuscany though!!!  The famed Bistecca alla Fiorentina is known for the quality of the meat, not to mention its size.

The meat comes from a herd of cattle known as Chianina one of the oldest and most important breeds in Italy found in the Chianti region, hence the name.

When you order the Bistecca alla Fiorentina is normally a thick steak 3-4 cm high and is ordered by weight 1-1.5 kg for two people and is served rare or blue (al sangue).  In general meat is not served well-done in Italy.


Crostini Toscani

Crostini are a like bruschetta but smaller.  Finger food size pieces of toasted bread with various toppings. The preferred toppings in Tuscany are a chopped liver similar to chicken liver pate crostini di fegato and lardo di colonnata cured pork lard with a herby flavour.


La Panzanella

This is a rustic salad of peasant origins made with stale bread and the best seasonal produce -tomatoes, cucumbers, onion and basil leaves mixed with vinegar and olive oil.  Served from the fridge it is a refreshing starter or side dish.

It is considered a sin to throw stale bread away and so several recipes use this as an ingredient and rehydrate the bread with water.  Another popular dish using stale bread which is quintessential comfort food for the winter is Pappa al Pomodoro – a bread tomato soup, with three main ingredients: stale bread, juicy tomatoes and good Tuscan olive oil.

La Panzanella


If you have no problem eating offal or are feeling brave and then you should try Tuscany’s best loved street food – Lampredotto.  It is a sandwich made with the fourth stomach of a cow (similar to tripe) slow-cooked with tomato, onion, parsley, and celery in a crunchy roll served with salsa verde a condiment made of parsley, capers anchovies and other green leafy herbs.  You will have to get in line behind the locals from businessmen to students who will happily queue for the best sandwich in town.  Sergio Pollini Lampredotto in via dei Macchi and L’Antico Trippaio in Piazza Cimatori are the best in Florence.