Tuscan Food Guide: 28 Traditional Foods of Tuscany (+ Where to Try Them)
Your essential Tuscan food guide for visiting Florence, Tuscany, and the cities and towns of Chianti, Maremma, and the Tuscan Val d’Orcia!
The romance of Tuscany is about more than just the magnificence of its Renaissance art and architecture, and bountiful wine production. It’s also about the food of Tuscany as well. The diversity of flavors, aromas, colors and textures in Tuscan cuisine is so divine, you might be surprised to discover the stark simplicity behind it.
Tuscan food is truly from the earth, with a bounty of whole food products and livestock that spring from and live off the land. Hearty meat and cheese products are the hallmark of Tuscan dishes. Just one look at the most popular of Tuscany foods here show this is a carnivore’s dream. Bistecca di Fiorentina, Lampredotto, Salami, Cinghale … so many iconic Italian foods to try.
If your palate craves more plant and less meat, get ready for lots of bread and tomatoes. But oh the deliciousness they create in Tuscany — the insanity of this two-ingredient diet will amaze any veggie-inspired traveler to eat more Tuscany!
So read on to learn all about the food Tuscany is known for, from staple ingredients and the creative dishes they inspire, to 3 of our favorite restaurants in Tuscany to try them!
What’s in this Article?
Traditional Foods of Tuscany
Traditional Tuscan Food
14 Traditional Tuscan Dishes
Traditional Tuscan Wine
3 Restaurants to Try Traditional Tuscan Food
It’s on everyone’s Italy bucket list, especially for food and wine lovers. Tuscany is a land that defines the entire country, particularly as one of its most prolific wine producing regions. But just as Italy is so much more than Tuscany, there is also so much more to Tuscany than wine and cypress tree-lined rolling countryside.
For example, did you know there are thermal baths, caves, and grottoes in Tuscany, and waterfalls tall enough to repel down? There are also vast rice fields that make it feel as if you’ve suddenly time-warped to southeast Asia!
Tuscany is one of the biggest regions in Italy, and agriculture and animal husbandry play a significant role in its economy. There are entire areas in the region dedicated to growing olives, wines, fruit and vegetables and raising cattle, horses, pigs and poultry.
In fact, today, agricultural estates from the medieval era function as agriturismos where tourists are welcome to stay and learn about the Tuscan way of life.
The cuisine of Tuscany is all about simplicity — keeping it fresh, and incorporating seasonal produce, legumes, meat, pasta and cheese with traditional local flavors authentic to the land. From hearty stews to delectable desserts, Tuscan-style cooking is simple and delicious.
Traditional Foods of Tuscany
Taking inspiration from the standard fare of the poor, traditional Tuscan food is rustic in its ingredients and flavors. But rest assured, despite its humble roots, the cuisine of Toscano is known for being a gastronomic nirvana and there’s lots to do for foodies headed to Florence and Tuscany.
While most restaurants in Tuscany will serve traditional local specialties, Florence is generally where you’ll find innovative Chefs creating high cuisine by elevating these traditional flavors into new culinary experiences.
So, let’s begin with the base ingredients and staple foods of Tuscany:
Trippa - A perfect representation of Tuscan’s cucina povera, trippa (tripe) is a blue-collar meal that offers powerful flavors derived from the simplest of ingredients. Beloved by Michelangelo himself, this Florentine favorite is actually part of the digestive organ found between the esophagus and the stomach of a cow.
Cinghiale - Kick start your food bucket list the next time you holiday in central Italy with the tender and juicy meat of cinghiale. These wild boars of Tuscany's forests are essential to central Italian cuisine, and are both a local emblem and a delicacy.
Soppressata Toscana - Don't like wasting food? Then this spiced and flavorful salami dish made from the leftover portions of the pig is perfect for you. Eaten with unsalted Tuscan bread and a glass of robust red wine, this fermented and dried sausage is named soppressataafter the flattened and oblong shape of the salami.
Finocchiona Salami - The pronounced aroma of fennel seeds in this cured meat is what made it popular among the peasants and nobles alike. Inspired by the wild fennel fields of Tuscany, this Italian salami is made from finely ground pork neck and shoulder, ham trimmings, rump, lean belly, collar and flank.
Give in to the sensation of scent and eat a meal with finocchiona as an appetizer paired focaccia, pecorino cheese and local reds.
Pecorino Toscano - The most famous cheese of Tuscany is undoubtedly pecorino Toscano, a traditional Tuscan soft or semi-hard cheese made from whole sheep’s milk and characterized by a rustic yellow rind.
Whether you prefer your cheese aged (stagionato) or fresh (fresco), Tuscan pecorino is a must-have cheese if you plan to travel through the region. Stop by Podere il Casale in Pienza for a cheese-tasting tour and to buy a few small wheels, or Cugusi Silvana cheese if you’re closer to Montepulciano.
Feast on this table cheese after your meal, or incorporate it into a cheese platter along with fruit and honey.
When it comes to pasta, Tuscany has some unique ones of their own worth seeking out, and if you go looking for them anywhere else in Italy, the locals there may not know what you’re talking about or they’ll know you’ve just come from Tuscany.
Some Tuscan pasta dishes are made without eggs unlike its neighbor Emilia Romagna just to the north which is famous for their egg pastas. However, one of the most popular noodles you’ll find here indeed contains eggs in the dough — Pappardelle. Similar to tagilatelle but wider, pappardelle is a perfect match for Tuscany’s hearty meat-based stewed sauces like wild boar stew.
You’ll also find Pici, a fatter spaghetti found in Florence and throughout Tuscany. It’s often served simply with sauteed tomatoes or in a rich tomato-based sauce.
Finally, one of our favorite pastas that is uniquely Tuscan is Gnocchi di Castagne. Known for the forests of chestnut trees that dot the Tuscan countryside, this flavorful gnocchi is one of Italy’s original gnocchi dishes made from a mixture of wheat and chestnut flour.
On our first trip to Tuscany years ago, I remember looking forward to eating bread. I don’t know why I thought all Italian bread in Italy would be so delicious, but when I bit into a slice of the Tuscany bread laid upon our table, I thought the waiter had it in for tourists or maybe just me. It was the worst thing I’d eaten in Italy thus far — dry, stale-tasting, and completely without flavor.
So, yes, my foodie friends, Tuscany is not readily known for its bread. But if you know where to go and what type of bread to buy, some of their bread is delicious. One bread to keep an eye out for is Pane Toscano, one of only six regional breads in Italy with the DOP/IGP designation.
15 Traditional Tuscan Dishes
Now that we’ve got the basics down, here are 15 of the most traditional dishes you’ll find made with these staple foods from Tuscany.
1. Pappardelle al ragu di cinghiale
This authentic dish features the Tuscan wild boar stew that’s so well known in this region and most often served with Pappardelle pasta or over a pile of steaming polenta (I’m getting hungry just writing this!) as a base.
Both pappardelle and polenta are hearty enough to stand up to the meaty and flavorful stew creating a balanced Tuscany dish that’s worth traveling for.
2. Lampredotto (tripe sandwich)
The king of street food in Florence, this culinary delight is a beloved slow-cooked Tuscan food. Much like trippa, or tripe, Lampredotto is made from the fourth and final stomach of the cow called the Abomasum. Expert tasters of organ meat will tell you that Lampredotto is a cleaner and more flavorful organ meat than regular tripe.
You’ll find this Tuscan food specialty sold at the Mercato Centrale, local eateries, and food trucks in the alleyways of Florence. But be prepared, it may have you hooked from the very first bite.
3. Bistecca alla Fiorentina
Synonymous with tradition, Tuscan, and native Chianina beef, this Florentine steak is served rare and prepared using just five ingredients: steak, fresh rosemary, fresh sage, extra virgin olive oil, and salt & pepper. Okay, make that six ingredients!
The cut of meat is acquired from an ancient Tuscan breed that is prized for its tasty meat. Seasoned with local spices and grilled over red-hot coals, this steak is simple and luxurious at the same time. If you love your meat bloody (and yummy), grab a plate when in Tuscany.
Pair your steak with a glass of Chianti Classico or Barbaresco — it’s a Tuscany food experience you’ll never forget!
A triumph of humble Italian cooking, ribolitta is the famous Tuscany bean stew made with white cannellini beans, veggies, and stale bread.
The name ribolitta literally translates to re-boiled or re-cooked soup and again comes from the tradition of cucina povera in rural Tuscany. Savory ribollita soup is thickened with stale bread and recooked the next day. Next winter, tuck into a steaming bowl of this dense soup using a fork (as per the traditionalists).
5. Trippa alla Fiorentina
Next time you hit the streets or visit a local Tuscany osteria, grab a plate of Trippa alla Fiorentina with some wine, Tuscan bread and grated cheese. This local stew is a traditional and very authentic Tuscan dish made from the organ meat of a cow that’s cleaned well then stewed with tomatoes and flavorings to produce a soft, almost gelatinous texture.
Trippa is similar to Lampredotto, but whereas Lampredotto is made from the fourth stomach of the cow, trippa uses the organ meat of the cow between the esophagus and the stomach.
6. Crostini Toscani
If there was a defining appetizer of Tuscany, it might be the crostini Toscani. Also called crostini neri, crostini di fegatini, black crostini, and crostini alla Chiantigiana, it is essentially chicken liver pâté served on lightly-toasted slices of bread.
Vegetables like onion and celery are simmered with the chicken liver, broth, and spice flavorings like capers and even salted anchovies. Sweet Vin Santo or Marsala wine can also added for a unique component of a classic Tuscan antipasti.
7. Fagioli con salsiccia
Tuscany’s version of pork and beans, fagioli con salsiccia literally translates to "beans of the bird with sausage".
Born in the cucina povera (food of the poor), this beloved Florentine dish is best savored at your local trattoria. It is often served alongside a vibrant green salad and a glass of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and is definitely one of the most iconic dishes of Tuscan cuisine.
8. Panzanella Salad
This mixture of bright flavors and textures is like Tuscany in one salad, and Tuscany’s answer to the tomato sandwich. It’s a classic Tuscan food that doubles as a summer treat, made from moistened stale bread and fresh summer vegetables dressed in vinegar and olive oil.
The authentic element of this dish is moistening the bread by simply sticking it in water, and wringing it out with your hands.
Panzanella was first described in a poem by Bronzino, the dish uses toughened bread chunks to soak up the delicious juices that are reminiscent of sunshine. It's a meal you are sure to attempt making yourself when you return home.
9. Acquacotta Maremmana
A unique variation on Tuscan bread and vegetable soup, Acquacotta is a nomad dish of the people from the mountains of Amiata. This "cooked water" stew is made from the simplest of local ingredients that vary a bit based on region. It usually includes onions, eggs, celery, tomato, water, basil, grated pecorino, and olive oil, and is best served with toasted stale bread on the side, though some is often thrown in as well.
This hearty vegan stew is a symbol of Maremma and the ultimate comfort food.
10. Cacciucco seafood soup
There is no such thing as too much of a good thing, and this fish stew from the port city of Livorno is a strong testament to that!
Made from five different kinds of seafood (one for each “c” in its name), the Cacciucco alla Livornese is much more than a mere fish soup. It is eaten by spooning a bite over toasted bread that is rubbed with garlic and overflows with the taste of chili peppers, tomatoes, white wine and fresh herbs.
11. Pappa al Pomodoro
There is nothing a bowl of tomato soup and bread can't fix but mixing the two is always best! A marvel of duality, Pappa al Pomodoro, the Tuscan bread and tomato soup Tuscany is known for is a true peasant soup.
Traditionally, this soup was made to use up the week’s stale bread and is still made today using little more than fresh ripe tomatoes and basil for flavoring. It is typically served hot in winter or cool in summer.
12. Pappardelle alla Lepre
The province of Arezzo is home to one of Tuscany's most unique dishes, Pappardelle alla lepre, or Pappardelle with rabbit (hare). The dish consists of stewed over flat pasta like pappardelle served with tender hare meat that has been slowly marinated in wine, vinegar, and herbs.
13. Tagliolini al Tartufo
If mesmerizing swirls of thin tagliatelle pasta with white truffles flavored with butter, garlic and Parmigiano cheese are not enough to sate your cravings, don't worry, the rare white truffle is the real star of this dish. Tagliolini are a slightly thinner version of tagliatelle, though not as thin as fettuccine or linguine.
This regional speciality is a staple at Tuscan food fairs and festivals, so be sure to get a taste of it while on vacation. You can thank us later!
14. Torta di ceci
Street food in Tuscany embodies the region's character, history and culture. And the Etruscan coast is best represented by the chickpea cake, torta di ceci.
Soft inside and a little crispy on the outside, this thin pancake is about 0.5 cm thick. The bright golden snack is made by wood-firing chickpea flour like a pizza and is both cheap and tasty. It goes well with a glass of the old-school spuma bionda.
15. Potato Tortelli
Passed down through generations in the countryside, the potato tortelli comes from the valleys of Mugello and Casentino in Tuscany.
Initially prepared at the first local potato harvest in 1800, this poor man's tortelli was originally meant to be a recipe for leftover scraps. The mashed potato-filled pasta is seasoned with herbs, spices, garlic, and Parmigiano; a carb lover's dream.
Traditional Tuscan Wines
Vin Santo – Tuscan sweet dessert wine
Likened to the nectar of the Greek gods, this holy wine is a divine experience in a glass.
The first step to enjoying this gorgeous golden-colored drink as a part of the Cantucci e Vin Santo is raising a toast as a traditional Tuscan welcoming. Next, breathe in the aroma of hazelnut, dried apricot, caramel, tropical fruit, and honey. Finally, savor the warmth and intensity of the hazelnut and caramel flavors with a plate of amaretti, cantucci or biscotti.
Chianti Classico wine
Nothing describes the magic of Italian wines quite like a glass of Chianti Classico.
This renowned red contains 80% of Sangiovese grapes and can only be produced within the designated appellation zones. The dry red wine has a mild spicy flavor with leather and cherry notes that make it a perfect counterpoint to foods like pasta, antipastos, and even Toscana comfort meals like the ribollita.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano
The very first wine to be awarded the DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) status in 1966, this premier white wine is known for its crisp, dryness that is accompanied by floral and citrusy notes.
The amber-hued wine is required to contain at least 85% of Vernaccia grapes grown in the municipality of San Gimignano. Its bitter aftertaste makes it the perfect accompaniment to an aperitivo and even makes it ideal for pairing with Tuscan-style salami and seafood!
The orange tang of these meringue-y Tuscan almond cookies makes this typical dessert of Sienese cuisine a Christmas treat. Best eaten paired with dessert wines such as Moscadello di Montalcino or Vin Santo, the ricciarelli is sure to transport you to the rustic retreats of Tuscany.
Autumn festivities are incomplete without a slice of traditional castagnaccio, Tuscany’s famous chestnut cake.
Also called wood bread or bread of the poor, it originated in the country as an inexpensive and nutritious treat for peasants. Today, this delicate chestnut flour-based cake is flawlessly paired with honey or hazelnut cream and served during fall festivals.
Move over cookies and milk, it's time for the "cantucci e vino santo". Hard almond cookies dunked in Vin Santo (sweet dessert wine) is one of the most popular after-meal snacks in Italy. Cantuccini are bite-sized versions of the cantucci, making them perfect for this purpose.
Panforte di Siena
Originally created by an abbess from Siena as a treat for the aristocracy, this Christmas Tuscan delicacy is made by blending dry fruit and spices to give it an unusual taste and strong (forte) odor. Its chewy and spongy textures go perfectly with a cup of strong coffee or a glass of dessert wine.
3 Amazing Restaurants For Traditional Tuscan Food
Buca di Sant’Antonio
Via della Cervia, 3, Lucca
The Buca di Sant'Antonio is located in the middle of the historic center of Lucca and is one of the oldest restaurants in the city. The menu is a meat-lover's dream, and the tortelli is simply sublime! Come here for a homely atmosphere, exceptional local dishes and a great wine selection.
Da Nerbone at Mercato Centrale
Piazza del Mercato Centrale, Florence
Locals and tourists have been fighting to get to the front of the queue at Da Nerbone food stall at the Mercato Centrale since 1872, and for good reason!
The golden standard of Lampredotto, this stall is the Italian foodie's fantasy come to life. Add a dollop of salsa verde and salsa piccante to you panini to enhance the complexity of flavors, and you'll soon be back for more.
A Casa Mia
Via Santa Maria a Macerata, 4, San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Tuscany
At A Casa Mia, every dish is crafted with the utmost detail. The very small, family-owned and operated business offers a warm atmosphere with a rustic charm and efficient service to ensure that every dining experience is unique and comfortable.
Ask for the Super Tuscan Sampler if you don't know what appetizer to pick. Dining on a traditional 4 course meal here entails generous portions of authentic Italian fare and makes for a fantastic way to spend an evening out.
But go early to get a seat — as we said, it’s small and all the better to enjoy this authentic osteria in the heart of Tuscany.
Tuscan food is perfect for those who appreciate simplicity, hearty fare, and nourishing meals that are made from fresh seasonal produce and ingredients. If that sounds like you, get planning already, because Toscano's mouth-watering cuisine awaits!