10 year Anniversary Trip to Italy, Need suggestions
I am going to Italy in two weeks for my 10th wedding anniversary. I lived in Italy for a short while so I am used to authentic Italian cuisine and customs. We will be in the Tuscany region most of the time and then on to France for the second half of my our trip. My wife has never been to Europe and is extremely excited. The reason for this post is to try and find great local cuisne in the Florence area. We are definately not hotel or tourist people. We would much rather explore the area and find where the locals eat....any suggestions would be helpful. Most of my time in italy was in the northern part so I'm not familiar with any of the Tuscany region.
I would look into basing yourself in Lucca and get to know that little jewel of a city well, and take day train trips into Florence or explore more of Tuscany from there. Lucca has a rhythm of its own that it reveals only to those who stay within its walls for more than a few days. Lots of good restaurant reviews for Lucca if you do a search of this forum.
As one who rather strongly dislikes the cuisine of Lucca, having spent a week there, perhaps I shouldn't comment, but if you go to Lucca, the essential restaurant for service and authenticity is Buca di Sant'Antonio. If you want to taste Lucca cuisine at its very finest (and you do, because otherwise it can be awfully blah) , this is the place to do it.
If you wanted something off the tourist track (and Lucca isn't) but still filled with charm, I would recommend Pistoia, which scarcely sees tourists. Check out via l'abbondanza for good eats, or ask the locals. But if you really want to experience rural Italian cuisine, the best thing to do is to book yourself into a highly regarded agriturismo (with a owner-cook) or locanda (with a restaurant) or an albergo ristorante. (But you probably already have your hotel reservations, no?)
Failing that, if you want to eat where the locals eat, pick a town and ask them where they eat. Is wine important to you? I'd pick a town in the chianti region. Arezzo is also known for its good food and restaurants.
Thanks so much for the great suggestions. We will actually be staying in Florence as our main location for visiting the Tuscany Region. We will be wandering out to the various areas and cities. I would say most of our meals will be in florence and the rest throughout the region.
I suggest you read 2 posts:
-Trip Report: CT, Lucca, Siena, Florence, and Roma (long) which was just posted a day or so ago. Read her account of dining in Florence and especially her description of the bistecca and petti de pollo en burro at Sostanza. Go there at least once and order both (maybe the artichocke omelet as well).
My post entitled Florence Report - December 2007, which will give you write-ups of several restaurants you may wish to try. By all means, read about Teatro del Sale and be sure to go there for dinner (at minimum for lunch). You will eat very well and be entertained after dinner in the main room at no extra charge (with wine and other beverages included in the meal). You will not be disappointed by either Sostanza or Teatro del Sale.
Can you give more details on Pistoia - why you recommend it as a place to visit - and can you give specific recs for places to stay and/or eat?
We're driving from Livorno (getting the ferry from Corsica) to Bologna. The ferry arrives lateish (7pm) so we're looking for somewhere to stay not too far away. We'll have spent 2 weeks walking and beachbumming, so we want somewhere with a bit of life, where we can do a wee bit of sight-seeing or perhaps an activity such as a cooking class, gastro tour etc and most importantly somewhere with good food. But, it would be nice to avoid tourist hordes. So we were thinking Lucca rather than Pisa but perhaps that's the wrong assumption. Would Pistoia be a good alternative? We're thinking of staying 2 nights, then driving on and spending 2 nights in Bologna.
Any recs for Bologna eating also greatly appreciated. Though that's probably another thread.
Thanks for any tips!