Toscana. It’s one of those regions that inspires countless artists and artisans, and prompts foreigners to uproot and move to one of many towns in the region. Our family was one of them. After living in Korea for a year, we decided to relocate to Cortona.
Truth be told, every region of Italy is charming, and has some epic eats, that’s for sure. Culinary travel in Tuscany is something that is growing more and more each year, with the boom of agritourism and culinary schools, as well as various festivals.
Want to know what I wish I could eat right now from Tuscany? Here’s my top culinary travel must-haves from the region.
A must-buy for every culinary travel enthusiast heading to Tuscany is of course olive oil. It’s Italy, for God’s sake. That means you have a moral obligation to buy several oils, olive being the main one. There’s even an olive oil resort you can stay at outside of Florence.
I typically buy very green tasting extra virgin olive oil, and use it on vegetables and salads. It’s also a versatile cooking oil that makes everything from fish to agli olio delectable.
I have an actual addiction to truffles. Well not really, but it feels that way at times, especially since I spent a large portion of my childhood in France and then up and moved to Italy. Truffles are an important ( and pricey) part of my life.
All kidding aside, if you haven’t tried white or black truffles you’re going to want to in Tuscany. When in season, they are shaved onto anything from pasta to bruschetta at restaurants in the region. Truffle oil and salt are available in many grocery or specialty stores, such as Molesini in Cortona.
Vino is a staple of Italians, whether they’re having lunch or dinner. Tuscany is home to some of the world’s finest wine, which compliments the region’s cuisine and overall love of life. Visiting some of Tuscany’s wineries is a must, such as these.
The cheese that gives parmegiano a run for it’s money, pecorino is served in a variety of dishes throughout the region. Made from sheep milk, pecorino has a distinct flavour and I’ve loved it when served with jam.
Where To Stay
If you haven’t been to Tuscany before, I would suggest starting your culinary travel journey in Firenze ( Florence). Florence is a really special city, for a number of reasons. Not only are there fantastic cafes and restaurants, but you’ll find wine bars, art stores, and gourmet grocery stores on virtually every corner. Not to mention world-class markets!
You will also find allergy-friendly restaurants in Florence, as well as vegetarian and raw foods joints. After spending some time there, branch out into the smaller towns that dot the countryside.
My number one regret in life is actually not having taken cooking classes when we lived in Italy! I had a 2 year old at the time, so I was limited in how often I left my town. We lived on top of a mountain essentially, and getting to the main grocery store in a nearby town was the highlight of my week essentially.
You absolutely must invest in cooking classes while in Tuscany. However, I’d like to make a recommendation that may seem outside the norm: ask around the city or town you’re staying at for their recommendations over finding something online that is geared to tourists. What I mean by this is that there may be someone in the town that is known for her amazing ravioli or stew and that would love to offer an eager foreigner classes, but that doesn’t necessarily advertise online. You can easily find cooking schools, but how commercial are they, and will you learn to cook what you want to? Investigate online and also ask in person.
Regardless of what town or cities you visit when in Tuscany, you’re going to enjoy tucking into a meal that will leave an impression on you for the rest of your life.