10 Things That Are Good to Know About Food in Tuscany
If you’ve never been to Italy before, there are likely to be a variety of things that you don’t know about the country – especially in the category of food and drink. It may not seem important, but having a better understanding of what’s on offer and general differences between what you’re used to and what you’re likely to find can certainly be beneficial.
With plenty of experience in living in this part of Italy, our experts at Tours of Tuscany are here to help you, offering a few tips that we think you might find handy to know before you come over for a trip. In no particular order, here are 10 things we think you should know:
Breakfasts here are smaller
The first meal of the day is quite an important one – after all, it gives you some extra energy which can help to prepare you for the day ahead. When you’re on a holiday in a location like this, you’re going to want to be ready to explore. It is important to note that breakfasts here generally consist of a small pastry and coffee and while it tastes nice, if you’re used to eating a bit more, you may want to prepare a few snacks for later.
Tuscan food is typically very regional
While there’s a good chance that you’re going to find classic Italian meals wherever you go, it’s important to note that each part of Tuscany is likely to have its own variations of these dishes, as well as specialities that aren’t as common in other areas. If you plan to see as much of this destination as possible on your holiday, be sure to try a variety of foods to see just how delicious the many options are.
Know what foods to try
As mentioned above, there some fantastic options for your perusal – but even with this in mind, you may still walk into a restaurant and be unsure of what to eat. Don’t pick blindly, instead take some time to learn a little bit more about some of the fantastic foods and decide which ones you’re keen to try ready for when you visit a Tuscan eatery. A few great examples of dishes to try include:
- Bistecca all Fiorentina
You should also taste some of the many sweet deserts too, with a few great examples being panforte di Siena, torta della nonna and cantucci.
Enjoy a cappuccino or espresso for less
Typically, you’ll find that the cost of cappuccino is quite low, often coming in at around €1.50 – and espressos are often even cheaper, with the average price being just €1. With this in mind, it’s not hard to see why making a quick stop at a cafe and enjoying a nice drink can be a good idea. On a side note, ask for un caffe con latte instead of just a latte if you want one, since this will just get you a glass of milk!
You have to be on time for dinner and lunch
Lunch in Tuscany is often served around 1pm and since most eateries will close at 3pm at the latest, it’s often wise to not wait too long to grab a bite to eat. There are many ready-made Panini bars and touristy restaurants that are open all day – but if you want something substantial and traditional, it’s often best to get there on time. Dinner is a similar case, although this meal is often served at 8pm, so you may have to wait quite a while for the trattorias to open up.
The cafes may not be what you’re used to
Typically, cafes are called bars in Italy (rather than a place for alcoholic drinks) and while there are quite a few that are perfect for sitting down for a few hours and enjoying a nice coffee, most are quite a bit different. It’s more common here for individuals to come to a bar for a quick coffee break from work, so generally people will drink their coffee standing up and go.
Tipping restaurants (and the coperto charge)
Tipping isn’t a necessity, although it’s always welcome from tourists and locals alike. The coperto fee however, is something that you will have to pay if the eatery you go to charges it. Basically, this cost is for the plate and cutlery used (and sometimes for bread, too). While not all establishments will include coperto on the bill, there are many that do. It’s not a surprise cost though – you can often find the price of it on the menu.
Find yourself quality gelato
Tuscany is home to many excellent gelato shops and you simply can’t not taste at least a few during your stay. Not all gelaterias have premium gelato (with some catering more to crowds of tourists than anything else), there are several shops that focus on quality instead of quantity – and these are the ones that you should aim to look out for.
A helpful tip: a store that says gelato artigiano or artigianale makes their gelato with fresh, quality ingredients.
There are many great bottles of wine
If you didn’t know already (although we’re sure you do), Tuscany is often known as Italy’s “wine region”, thanks to the fact that some of country’s best wines are produced here. This is just one of the reasons why any connoisseurs won’t want to pass up a few of the many classics. Each area has something different to offer, delicious varieties that you simply can’t get anywhere else. From Chianti to Carmignano, there are just so many options.
Enjoy some incredible cheese
Italy is home to a variety of wonderful cheeses and you’re sure to find that you just have to try some of the amazing ones made here in Tuscany. Have a taste of pecorino if you get the chance, whether it’s fresh, semi-aged, or aged. It’s a speciality particularly in the Pienza and Val d’Orica areas, so don’t miss the opportunity to get some from these locations during your stay.