Top 10 Food, Drink, and Dining Facts for those Visiting Tuscany
There is so much to love about Italy, with locations like Tuscany being a great example of all the wonders that are on offer. There are many things that you might find different between your home and this region however, so it might be worth finding out what to expect before your vacation. This can be especially important when it comes to the differences relating to food in general – whether it’s the extra fee restaurants charge, to the size of breakfasts.
Because of this, our team of experts here at Tours of Tuscany felt that it might be a good idea to share a couple of tips to help anyone who’s planning to visit this area for the first time (or essentially anyone who wants to experience the many flavours of the region). Here are just 10 tips that we believe could help you:
The breakfasts in Italy aren’t as filling
If you have a big day ahead of you, you’re going to want a good breakfast to prepare you for your travels. While many people will want to visit a local establishment to eat a more traditional meal to kick-start the morning (if you’re in Tuscany, you can’t just have a bowl of cereal!), it’s worth noting that here, breakfasts generally consist of a small pastry (or brioche) and coffee. While a nice way to start your day, it’s not the most substantial meal, and in most cases it can be a good idea to have a snack later on in the day.
The food here can vary from one region to another
While classic meals like pizza and pasta-based dishes can commonly be found across Tuscany, there are likely to be different variations of these meals depending on where you go, as well as specialties that are more unique to particular areas. This is one of the reasons why practically anyone spending a vacation here should aim to try some food from every location they visit.
It can be a wise idea to know what meals to try
You could just order anything from a restaurant, but it might be worthwhile to learn a little bit more about some of the finest dishes in the area before visiting. Tasty traditional meals you should look out for include:
- Bistecca all Fiorentina
- Cannoli (especially in Sicily)
Deserts and sugary snacks like cantucci, torta della nonna, and panforte di Siena are all well worth a try, especially if you have a sweet tooth.
Espressos and cappuccinos are cheaper
One of many reasons why we’re sure you’ll fall in love with this region is because the costs of cappuccinos and espressos tend to be fairly low, averaging €1.50 and €1 respectively. This is perfect for anyone who wants to take a quick break from their travels to enjoy a nice hot drink, so be sure to stop off at a local café if you get the chance. A quick tip: Ask for un caffe con latte instead of just latte if you don’t want to purchase a glass of milk!
Know the opening and closing times of restaurants
You shouldn’t wait too long to eat lunch, or even aim for an early dinner. Lunch time in Italy is generally at about 1pm (with most establishments closing at 2pm to 3pm), so if you want to enjoy your meal and relax, be sure to find a place on time. Dinner is served at 8pm usually, so in the in-between time, you might want to buy a snack, like a panini. While there are restaurants that are open all day long, these places are generally catering to tourists, so you may not get the same traditional Tuscan authenticity from them.
The cafés are different
Often called bars, you’ll find that cafés in Italy are generally quite different from those you may be used to. Instead of being a place to sit down for a few hours, it’s far more common to stand and drink a coffee before leaving. This is because they’re more suited to people taking a break from work, so when visiting, don’t plan to stay too long.
Paying a coperto fee and giving a tip
Tips aren’t necessary, but many people choose to give a few euros anyway. A coperto however, is often a necessary fee for any establishments that charge it. The cost is essentially for plates, cutlery, and bread that’s served before (or alongside) meals. You can see on menus if a restaurant charges this additional cost and how much it is (often, it’ll only add a few extra euros to the bill).
Quality gelato is well worth a try
You should definitely aim to taste a gelato during your stay here in this part of Italy, as they’re absolutely delicious. Be warned that shops that are focused on quantity not quality may disappoint you, so you should always aim to find a good gelateria if you really want to try something fantastic. One of the most common ways to differentiate the two is to look out for stores that say gelato artigiano or artigianale which basically means that the gelato is made with fresh, quality ingredients.
Taste some of Tuscany’s stunning wines
There’s good reason for this part of Italy to be known as the wine region, and we’d advise you to take the chance to find out why for yourself. Some of the best wines in the country are made here and whether you’re a big fan or like a glass occasionally, this is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the beauty of some of the best wines in the world. From Bolgheri to Carmignano, give yourself the opportunity to enjoy at least a few drinks.
Get a taste for the fantastic cheeses made here
Another thing that you’re sure to like is the cheese, as there are many amazing ones to taste. One excellent kind that you can’t miss is pecorino (especially in areas like Pienza and Val d’orica), which you can get aged, semi aged, or fresh – either way, it’s still great.