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Jan 22, 2009 06:30 PM

2 weeks in Tuscany to Eat, Where at?


Myself and another Chef will be going to be in Tuscany/Emilio Reggio? for 2 weeks - Bologna, Parma, Modena, Lucca, Florence, etc. - and are looking for recommendations on where to eat - we are hoping to find little hole in the wall/very casual restaurants where the owners would like nothing better than for their guests to leave with bellies full of roasted meats and delightful wine - and if they would let us work in their kitchen for a day, even better - we are here to learn and to eat food.

But where do you recommend? Where should we spend most of our time? Right now, our itenararies are pretty empty so any amount of time for any place is still open - we are leaving the day after Valentines Day and are staying till March 2nd - anything important to note about the food during this time? I've never been outside of the country so I have no idea what to expect - I love northern italian food and have been cooking it for awhile now - just need some pointers for what I'm sure is going to be a memorable/life changing experience for us.

Thank you for all your help, we greatly appreciate it...!!!

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  1. Few questions, before I can help you as I want and like.
    Where will you land in Italy ? And from which airport will you leave from Italy on March 2nd ?
    Will you rent a car or will you travel by train ? It makes a big difference becasue if you do not rent a car my suggestions will be focused only on the main towns, otherwise I will suggest you also further small towns.

    5 Replies
    1. re: vidanto

      We will be landing in, and leaving from Bologna. We more than likely will be getting around by train.

      Any other questions, just let me know. :)

      1. re: vicks

        So, not really two weeks in Tuscany then. How long will you actually be in Tuscany and will you get as far down as Pienza, Montepulciano, Lucignano?

        There are plenty of reports about southernTuscany/Pienza, many of them mine, and I have waxed lyrical about Da Toto at Lucignano. Chef Boris may let you into his kitchen. You can e-mail them to ask at Osteria da Totò <>

        1. re: Tuscanlover

          Right, not officially 2 weeks - but I just dont really know the regions all that well where the 2 meet and so on, I dont think we will be getting that far south - Lucignano is possibility, especially if we goto Sienna, but I imagine the Florence area is far more likely to be the bulk of our time. If you have already reported on that area, I will do my best to find them on the board - thank you for pointing me in that direction, I appreciate your help!

          1. re: vicks


            Do try to get down to Lucignano. I get the feeling that you guys would love Da Toto. Typical Tuscan country cooking at its best.

            1. re: Tuscanlover

              It has been noted, I hope we will be able to make it there..

              Thank you for the rec...

              - Adam.

    2. I would highly recommend picking up a copy of the Slow Food Guide to the Osterias of Italy. It is now published in English and would certainly give you a database of the kind of places you are looking for.

      The food around Bologna is much richer (with more butter & cream) than what you are likely to find in Tuscany.

      1. So, let's say two weeks in Emilia-Romagna.
        As you arrive in Bologna, let's begin from Bologna.
        Ny suggested restaurants are: DIVINIS and TRATTORIA DEL ROSSO.
        DIVINIS is open ad available also as wine bar and you can attend at their events focused on guided taste of wine. The patrons are Maurizio and Mirka.
        TRATTORIA DEL ROSSO is a way to eat as the local people eat everyday and it is very cheap. (By the way, I had lunch here yesterday).
        For an unusual dinner I suggest you MARCO FADIGA BISTROT, elegant, modern and delicious food, but not our typical food. .
        Then, before to go on with this region, one hour by train and you're in Florence !
        In Florence, 2 are my suggestions: DA BURDE and IL MAGAZZINO.
        DA BURDE you should not miss it; not yet well known to the tourists it is full of very nice local people.
        TRIPPERIA IL MAGAZZINO is a must and please, do not miss it. It is close enough to Palazzo Pitti. . You will meet also many tourists, there.
        Sorry, I cannot go on because I must go out to dine, anyway, if you want I will continue with Modena (Emilia, again) and my cherry on the pie is to suggest you to visit Casa Artusi in Forlimpopoli where not only you will enjoy the lunch or dinner but you will learn about the true typical local food and talk with the chef.
        If you want we can meet there, as I live not far from Forlimpopoli and I know Casa Artusi.

        1 Reply
        1. re: vidanto

          Thank you for the recommendations - like I said, our itineraries are still open for areas if you feel the type of food you've been describing is better in different areas of the country. Bologna was just a starting point, and your help will be greatly beneficial for us - please continue on, and if we do meet up - dinner is most certainly on us! :) Thank you again, I look forward to hearing more recommendations from you!

          - Adam.

        2. Hello, it's my first time on ChowHound...
          I'm from Rome and I live/work in Southern Tuscany since 3 years. Looking at your post I undestand that you are already in Italy, and I hope it's not too late for my suggestions..

          These are the restaurants favourite by (us) locals:
          OSTERIA ACQUA CHETA ( av. price 25 Eur/p.p) for "bistecca fiorentina "and local food.Hand-made pasta ( great "pici", typical hand-made pasta of Montepulciano area) and bread. Reservation is required, especially in high season, or you do not have any chance..
          LA GROTTA. Wonderful location ( just opposite San Biagio Cathedral).Maybe the best place in town and the surroundings. Opened since about 15 years, family-run,Italian cuisine based on local food, great service, wide wine list. The owner, David, can assist you in the selection of wine and has a deep knowledge of Italian and French wines.Average price 45 Eur/p.p
          Cosy restaurant ( less than 20 seats) in the historical center ( Piazza delle Erbe), good service, perfect for a romantic dinner. Great selection of Italian fine wines. Massimo , the owner, is a sommelier . Av. price 40 Eur p.p.
          Bistrot with a panoramic view over the Val D'Orcia, in Piazza San Francesco,one of the most beautiful squares of town. Perfect for a light lunch ( selection of local salami, cheese, pastas..) , for an aperitif on the terrace or for a wine tasting. Wide selection of wine by the glass (usually they have 15-20 different wines by the glass) Live jazz in summer time. Av. price 15-20 Eur p.p

          Valiano di Montepulciano
          Located in Valiano (about 10 km outside the historical center). Not touristic at all , about 20 seats, local and fresh food ( also hand-made pasta9), young owners. In summer, a small terrace. Av. price 25 Eur p.p.

          LA PORTA. Few metres after the gate of Monticchiello.Local food, very nice atmosphere , great place in summer time ( they have a terrace with a view on the valley). Maybe a little bit overpriced for the service ( av. price 40 Eur p.p.), but the food is great

          Family-run and typical trattoria. The owners ( Roberto and its wife) are really the "soul" of this place. You can eat wonderful "pici" and an unforgettable "maialino al latte". On summer, you can eat outside, in one of the most beautiful corners of Pienza. Reservation is required ( always full!). Av. price 25-30 Eur p.p.

          DA FORCILLO
          Near the rail station ( Via Gramsci).It's very difficult to find there any tourist, it's a place known mostly by locals.Forcillo is opened since 1950 ( or something like that), it's a family-run trattoria. Great "acqua-pazza soup", good meat. Avoid the "antipasto della casa". Limited selection of wine, very good rate quality/price ( av. price Eur 25 p.p.)

          IL CONTE MATTO. Located inside the Castle of Trequanda. Perfect for a Fiorentina/Chianina steak.Very nice on summer /spring ( garden).Av. price 35-40 eur p.p.

          LA BOTTE PIENA.Located in the main square of this small village, the restaurants offers a good selection of local cheese, salami, meat. It's not a formal place, but they have a good service and it's not expensive ( av. price 20-25 Eur)

          In our area food is based mostly on meat ( wild-boar, pork, veal) and vegetables. I would never suggest to ask for fish. Anyway, if cannot resist without fish, one of the rare good places is RISTORANTE PATRY, in Chianciano Terme ( near Terme di Sant'Elena). They offer fresh fish, with a very good service. Good selection of wine for quality and at a very competive price. The restaurant is quite "simple" and in my opinion in really old-style ( it looks as it was in the 70s), but the quality of the food can worth a visit.

          I hope of beeing of some help (and I apologize for my English) . I wish you a good stay in Tuscany!

          5 Replies
          1. re: bobost73

            Thank you so much for posting this, bobost73! I love the name "E Lucevan le Stelle!"

            On the list,I've been only to Latte di Luna and had a superb lunch there a couple of years ago.

            1. re: bobost73

              Hi Bobost,

              Great report. I love southern Tuscany.

              Have you been to Do Toto at Lucignano yet? (Very close to Sinalunga.) If not, please try it and let me know what you think of the ristorante.

              I will be there (again) for a week at the end of Aprile.

              1. re: Tuscanlover

                I Tuscanlover,

                I'd never been to that restaurant yet: I'll try to go there in the next weeks .
                Have you ever been to Walter Redaelli restaurant in Bettolle? He's considered as one of the new interesting chefs ( he was the former chef of La Bandita in Bettolle) and I heard good things about him..
                In my previous post I forgot to mention the wine: when in Montepulciano, do not miss the Nobile di Montepulciano wine. It's one of the best Italian reds, base Sangiovese grapes like Brunello. Some Cru like Vigna D'Alfiero ( produced by Tenuta Valdipiatta ) , Nocio (Poderi Boscarelli or Asinone ( Poliziano producer) are really great wines, comparable to the best Brunellos ( but less expensive!)

                1. re: bobost73

                  Thanks Bobost,

                  No, Never been to Walter Redaelli. Will try to visit when we are there in April.

                  We love Nobile. One of my wife's favourite wines, which she prefers to Brunello and Chianti.

              2. re: bobost73


                I wish I had the benefit of this post when I was in tuscany two years ago! Where do the locals eat in Rome (casual and upscale) - I'm headed there in April for a week!!! THANKS!