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A taste of Tuscan cuisine

Take a journey through Florence’s tempting trattorias, bakeries and vineyards in just 16 dishes.

Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Bistecca alla Fiorentina

A large, juicy hunk of deliciously tender beef

Usually shared between two people, these huge T-bone steaks are grilled over a crackling wood or charcoal fire. Served up very rare, the flavoursome meat is seasoned with salt, a little pepper and olive oil, and garnished with a lemon to squeeze over the top. Accompanied by a side of garlicky Tuscan beans, it’s perfectly savoured with a bottle of rich red wine.

Local tip: For the best of this beefy feast, take a trip to a local trattoria.

Trippa alla Fiorentina

Trippa alla Fiorentina

An ancient offal stew prepared with humble ingredients

Strips of tripe are cooked slowly in a mouth-watering tomato sauce with fried onions, carrots, parsley, celery and garlic. Served piping hot, the resulting stew is sprinkled with parmesan and finished with a drizzle of olive oil. A traditional peasant dish, it’s best accompanied by a slice of thick Tuscan bread for dipping in the delicious sauce.

Fagioli all'uccelletto

Fagioli all'uccelletto

Baked beans but not as you know them – a classic peasant dish

Chunky canellini are thrown into a terracotta pot with garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper and a sprig of sage. A peasant dish prepared with simple ingredients, this bright orange concoction packs a surprisingly intense flavour. Not unlike English baked beans, they’re often spooned up with sausage but make an excellent accompaniment for almost any type of meat.

Local tip: The people of Tuscany love beans so much, they’re known throughout Italy as ‘mangiafagioli’, which means ‘bean eaters’.

Pappa al Pomodoro

Pappa al Pomodoro

A satisfying soup for all seasons

This ancient Italian peasant dish is a combination of tangy tomatoes and leftover bread for a hearty soup. Cooked with a generous amount of garlic, its simple ingredients complement each other for tangy, textured perfection. A warming winter staple in the colder months, it’s also eaten in summer – served cold with a dash of olive oil and a sprinkling of basil.

Fritto Misto

Fritto Misto

A medley of savouries fried to crispy perfection

A moreish fried feast, these battered bites are crunchy on the outside with a soft, tender centre. Fresh meat, vegetables, fish and shellfish – everything is thrown into the pan, creating a perfect sampling platter to be shared up between friends or eaten as a mouthwatering appetiser dish.

Local tip: This dish is served in many trattorias but can also be found street-food-style, served up in paper cones to savour on the go.

Castagnaccio

Castagnaccio

A make-do cake substitute that’s still popular today

This flourless concoction was first cooked up during wartime, when flour and corn were hard to come by. A dough is made from mixture of finely ground chestnuts, water, olive oil, with a scattering of pine nuts thrown in. It can also be laced with fragrant ingredients like fennel seeds, rosemary, orange rind or other dried fruits.

Local tip: This dish is best accompanied by something sugary. A sweet wine called ‘vin santo’ makes a perfect pairing.

Pancotto

Pancotto

Chunky soup that’s sourced from the store cupboard

A peasant dish designed to use up left-overs, this comforting bowlful is made with stale bread soaked in a delicious broth. Prepared in endless variations all over Italy, ingredients include almost anything that’s cheap and easy to find. Vegetables like carrot, celery and onion are often thrown into the pot, with a dose of aromatic garlic and herbs providing a burst of flavour.

Local tip: This is usually served as a main meal, but you might also find it plated up in trattorias as an accompaniment to meat or vegetables.

Panzanella

Panzanella

Colourful and crisp – a fresh and tasty salad

A vibrant bowlful of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and yellow peppers are tossed with chunks of crisp dried bread. Generously drizzled with a tang of olive oil and vinegar and sprinkled with herby basil, it’s a filling and flavoursome vegetarian option.

Ribollita

Ribollita

Thick vegetable soup, rising from peasant dish to popular favourite

A hotchpotch of ingredients like cannellini beans, carrot, cabbage, kale, and onion are mixed with bread for a hearty, yet humble meal. Served up hot, it’s topped with a drizzle of olive oil. Literally called ‘reboiled’, some say this dish originates from the Middle Ages when servants would gather up food from their rich lords’ feast tables to be reheated at home.

Local tip: No longer just a homemade dish, this can be found on the menu at almost any restaurant or trattoria in the city.

Panino al Lampredotto

Panino al Lampredotto

Humble workman’s sandwich turned street food favourite

To make this dish, tripe is cooked in a tangy tomato, parsley, onion and celery broth – a legacy of old Italy where nothing went to waste. Now sold from street-side food stalls, a crusty bread bun is dipped into the mouth-watering mixture before being stuffed with the meat and seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper, then covered in lashings of hot chilli or green parsley sauce.

Local tip: This sandwich can be quite strong flavoured – ask for the ‘spannocchia’, the fatter part of the tripe, to be removed for a more subtle-tasting sandwich.

Vino del Chianti

Vino del Chianti

A fine wine sourced from historic Tuscan vineyards

The perfect pairing for any Florentine dish, this famous wine is a deep, rich red with a dry, earthy flavour. Made from the grapes of the Chianti region, a higher-end version called ‘classico’ and the finely-aged ‘reserva’ also make their way to the menu.

Local tip: Visit a winery to enjoy this delicious drink with a platter of Italian cheeses and cold cuts called a ‘tagliere’.

Farinata di Cavolo Nero

Farinata di Cavolo Nero

A simple yet filling polenta and vegetable concoction

A mixture of cornmeal and Tuscan kale, at first glance this dish looks more like a soup than a bowl of porridge. Chunky white beans, celery, onion and carrot also find their way to the pot, with just a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil for seasoning. Although the original recipe ends there, variations often include prosciutto, pancetta or a dash of fragrant herbs.

Local tip: This delicious dish can also be poured into a pan and fried-up for the next morning’s breakfast.

Pappardelle al Sugo di Lepre

Pappardelle al Sugo di Lepre

Pasta with game – a plateful of unique flavour

Tangled strips of thin, flat pasta sit soaking in a sumptuous tomato and red wine sauce, tossed with thick chunks of tender hare. Topped with a plentiful sprinkling of parmesan, the powerful earthy flavour of the meat combines with the rich warmth of the wine for a dish that’s mouthwatering to savour. A swirl of golden Tuscan olive oil completes the picture.

Local tip: This is served in trattorias and restaurants all year round, and tastes best ordered with a glass of red wine.

Ricciarelli

Ricciarelli

Macaroons invented at the time of the crusades

To make these 13th-century mouthfuls, a dough is prepared using finely ground almonds whipped up with a mixture of sugar, honey and egg whites. This must then be left for two days before baking. In the oven, the biscuits split and crack, creating a distinctive rough exterior that reveals a soft and chewy centre from underneath a coating of sweet powdered sugar.

Local tip: Picked up in bakeries and pastry shops – these make an ideal gluten-free treat for people with food intolerances.

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