Any suggestions for Tuscany/Umbria?
I will be in Tuscany/Umbria with my wife for a week in October. We are trying to pass through Perugia for the chocolate festival, and maybe somewhere else for some delicious truffles. Some other places on our list are Florence, Pisa, Siena, Arezzo. We will probably be staying near Florence and doing day trips to the other cities. Does anyone have any good suggestions for places to eat in these areas? We like to go local and eat as traditionally as possible. We don't mind spending money for a meal, but it had better be good ;-)
Very near to Perugia is Foligno. If you get a copy of this month's Food and Wine mag you will find several pages devoted to Il Becco Felice in Foliigno. Salvatore is a one man festival. No area of the interioir is without grafitti, the food and wine is singular and presented with care. Park near the train station and ask anyone for directions. Its a trip! (Don't forget the Sagrantino.)
Be sure to do a "Search this board" search for Tuscany and all the cities you are thinking of visiting. You will find dozens and dozens of helpful posts that have been made here over the past 6-24 months.
Umbria, as is said, is like Tuscany, with a fraction of the tourists, and prices to match.
I highly recommend visiting Norcia, where black truffles and meat are hallowed. We ate pasta with black truffles and wild boar ragu at the Hotel Grotta Azzurra here. We bought meats from a legendary looking shop whose storefront is bristling with wild boar heads, with inflated bladders dangling like balloons. Italy in general is a gastronome's paradise, and Norcia stands out.
Perhaps the best meal we had there or (anywhere) was at the Taverna del Lupo in Gubbio. White truffle lasagne, rabbit, pheasant.
I had a great meal in Sienna, but I was so dehydrated and dazed after being at the Palio all day in the heatwave of '03 that I can't remember the place.
Honestly, it is harder to find a bad meal than a good meal in Toscano and Umbra. Enjoy!
totally agree with the Umbria choice.I think Tuscany is by now a cliche ,overrated and overpriced.I found Umbria to be better in many aspects.As for 'is harder to find a bad meal than a good one 'I wouldn't be so sure about that.However if you end up in Florence you have to go to La Giostra restaurant.Just beware ,they give you lots and lots of food there so stick with a main and dessert.They offer a big complimentary appetizer anyway.Make sure and reserve in advance for the place is always packed.http://www.ristorantelagiostra.com/
Spent a few weeks in italy last month and am in total agreement.
If there was any foodie day I could relive it would be Florence. Nerbone for bollito lunch and then La Giostra for dinner. It was as close to perfect as you get.
We also spent a lovely day in Orvietto in Umbria. We lunched at Zeppelin on via Garibaldi and had possibly the best pasta with pesto ever to go with our cool and refreshing bottle of the house white (Orvietto has the best white wine in all of italy imo).
One other thing about Orvietto that I loved after parking down all kinds of hills and trekking up to cities all over Tuscany was that you can drive all the way up to the duomo if you want and even park right behind it.
You can't go wrong checking out Slow Food's "Osteria d'Italia" book which just got published in English for the first time as "Osteria of Italy". They only recommend restaurants that respect regional traditions. Most are usually affordable as well.
Also, search the web for agriturismos in the areas you will visit. Many agriturismos, or country inns, have excellent restaurants that often specialize in some local food product, whether it is a special meat, cheese, oil or wine. These will not be found in the cities, but if you are driving, they will be worth the hunt. You can even spot "agriturismo" signs on the roads to follow for a fun adventure.
A favourite of mine is Coccorone in the delightful town of Montefalco, about 16 miles or so from Perugia. The food is good Umbrian and the red wine to die for. The Antico Forciere in a small village called Casalina (12 miles south of Perugia, just off the E45) is 'fancy-Umbrian' but excellent none the less. There are many (many) more.
All of the replies are spot on. In Tuscana and Umbria (and most of Italy), it is much harder to find a bad meal than a good one.
Most people will tell you about the great food they have eaten all over centeral Italy. You will find very few "bad" stories because there aren't many of them.
Generally speaking, once you are out of the big cities, the only restaurants there are the ones frequented by the locals. Over the years only the good places survive.
Some of my favorites are:
il Coccorone in Montefalco - The food is well prepared with local ingredients and traditional style. The great thing about Montefalco is that it is area where the world renowned Sagrantino grape and wine is grown and made. So you will have great food & great wine. Close to Perugia and worth the trip for a lunch or dinner. Largo Tempestivi +39 0742 379535
il Profeta in Florence - Just off the Arno and one of many great places to have traditional Tuscan food and feel like you are eating with family. Via Borgognissanti, 93 R - 55-212265
Trattoria Omero - typical Tuscan food in the hills just outside of Florence just behind the Piazzale Michelangelo. Via Pian dei Giullari, Arcetri +39 055 220053
Trattoria Sostanza - Serving large "communal" meals in Florence since the mid 1800's.
Large portions, traditional food (tripe, ribollita, etc) served in a unique atmosphere. Via Porcellana 25r - 055-212-691 - near the Borgo Ognissanti end, Near Santa Maria Novella