Delicacies of Tuscany & Umbria

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These recommendations are taken from a previous edition of Lonely Planet's Tuscany & Umbria travel guide, which is full of inspirational ideas & detailed coverage for foodies, walkers & culture lovers.

"To cook like your mother is good; to cook like your grandmother is better," says the Tuscan proverb. Indeed it's the age-old recipes passed between generations  that form the backbone of contemporary Tuscan and Umbrian cuisine. Their peasant fare, based on beans, bread and other cheap, abundant essentials has led to Tuscans being dubbed mangiafagioli (bean eaters).

1. Truffles — white or black, freshly sourced and shaved over pasta. For white truffles, head to San Miniato; for black, go to Norcia.

2. Porcini mushrooms — especially in autumn with taglierini pasta.

3. Bistecca alla Fiorentina — as the name suggests, this dish is from Florence. It is a char-grilled t-bone steak rubbed with olive oil, seared on the char grill, garnished with salt and pepper and served al sangue (bloody).

4. Beans, etc. — any of the local varieties, preferably drizzled with new-season olive oil. Look out for fagiolo di Sorana, delicate white beans from the hills around Pescia. Common dishes include minestra di fagioli (bean soup) and pasta e ceci (chickpea pasta).

5. Castagnaccio — chestnut cake.

6. Cantucci — hard, sweet biscuits traditionally studded with almonds, but these days come spiked with anything from apricots to chocolate. Best served with Vin Santo, a Tuscan dessert wine.