4 days based in Florence area
Hello and thanks in advance for any help.
I will be in Florence around 24 June - 28 June.
I am thinking basing myself in Florence with one day in Florence and 3 days making day trips around the area. Overnights if necessary.
I've read about Sienna, Lucca, Moltepulciano, Panzano, Montalcino.....they all seem equally beautiful.....
I'd like to go to Panzano to see Dario Cecchini's butcher shop (the irnoy is he will be doing a demo tomorrow night near Boston, USA about 20 minutes from my house and it is sold out! 32 person waiting list!!!!) and a friend has recommended the Cennatoio Winery nearby Panzano as well....
I know I need more time, but 4 days will do it as I will take the 5th day to go to Venice....
I'd be happy seeing Florence's mesuems and churches in a day and spending the other 3 days driving around Tuscany eating in small towns and going to vineyards. This is as much of a food trip as anything else to be completely honest.
ANY SUGGESTIONS or sample itinieraries would be much much appreciated.
Judy Witts of Divina Cucina has a wonderful Florence guide for food lovers on her site at www.divinacucina.com She's a long time cooking teacher and Florence/Tuscany resident. Her guide covers each neighbourhood in Florence and lists foodie stops like restaurants, markets, pastry shops, gelaterias etc for each neighbourhood. A must to take with you in Florence if you love food!
I've spent many months in Florence--from 2004-2010. Your plan is a stretch for the days--you may want to focus rather than travel and you must have a car. I second the recommendation for Divina Cucina--very helpful. In Florence, try to avoid restaurants with English menus--too touristy and less authentic! Go to the Oltrarano--much more authentic. An absolute must is Le volpi e l'uva --recently named one of the top 10 wine bars in Europe (not just Italy); it's located on Piazza dei Rossi between Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti (we have lunch there at least 4 days a week). Other favorites are: Al Tranvai (Piazza Tasso), La Casalinga (Piazza Santo Spirito), and Cinghiale Bianco (Borgo San Jacopo--even if they have English menu available). You should stay overnight outside Florence--Florence traffic is a bear. I'd recommend staying in Volpaia--a Medieval town close to Greve (Antica Macelleria is a must), Panzano (OK, but less than a hour will do it), and Radda (La Vigne is fabulous). Siena is also great--cafe and panforte overlooking the Campo is worth the trip; but Osteria le Logge and Castelvecchio are good places to eat. Writing this hurts a bit--I can't wait until I return in 2012.
re: Longing for Italy
Yes--some vineyards have tasting and snacks; Volpaia has a tasting room and food available. There are probably 5-6 wineries on the road from Radda through Panzano to Greve. However, you might enjoy a regional enoteca which quite literally has a 100 or more wines. Greve has a great enoteca for Chianti wines.
Here is a current thread on "must eats" in Florence. It has not gotten many responses
It would be worth your while to go to the upper right hand corner and do search this board searches for Florence, Tuscany and any of the cities in Tuscany you are thinking of visiting. You will find many, many, many helpful suggestions and recommendations already here for you to review.
Mark, here are my recommendations from our trip in 2009. I don't have my map in front of me, so I am not sure how far some of these locations are from Florence.
We had a wonderful lunch at Buca di S. Antonio in Lucca. Also visited a fantastic chocolate store on Via S. Paolino called Caniparoli Cioccolateria (get the Guido Gobino chocolate sauce if they have it)
In Florence, stop at Procacci on Via Tornabuoni for a glass of wine and a truffle panino (the store specialty).
HIGHLY recommend lunch at Sostanza - the chicken breasts are amazing and the Tortino di Carciofo was equally as good!
We had lunch or dinner in Florence at Buca Lapi, Trattoria Angiolino, Camillo Trattoria, all of which were great.
I second the recommendation for a stop at Macelleria Falorni in Greve if you are near. It is a wonderful shop full of all sorts of goodies - not just meat.
We spent a very nice afternoon in Panzano (on a Sunday) visiting the market and a couple of other shops in addition to Antica Macelleria Cecchini (his salt in the vacum bags makes a great gift).
We had a very good nice easy dinner at Da Mario in Buonconvento. Charming little town.
One of our best afternoons was lunch at Trattoria Il Leccio in Sant'Angelo in Colle near Montalcino, followed by the gregorian chants at Sant'Antimo Abbey nearby.
We bought some amazing honey and assorted products at Villa I Cipressi on the road leading to Grosseto near Montalcino. A tiny family-run operation that I would return to again and again.
We had a fantastic dinner at Ristorante Boccon di Vino.
Lovely afternoon wandering Pienza, sampling cheese at the various stores. After Peinza we drove to Il Casale (www.podereilcasale.com) located between Pienza and Montelpuciano, where we had a tour of their cheese facility and then they made us an amazing lunch.
re: The Chowhound Team
Understood, all food talk.....
Thanks to all, this is very valuabkle advice I have received. My research continues.
By the way, I didn't get into the demo that Dario Cecchini did tonight over here (it was sold out), but I did shake his hand outside and told him I would be visiting him for a meal in June at his place in Panzano!
Next questions....what are must have foods to try in Florence/Tuscany area....like lampredotto....Bistecca alla Fiorentina......what else?
must tries - food in Tuscany is pretty simple with a big focus on beans and grilled and roasted meats - the soups are great, acquacotta (tomato based) and ribollita (a thick minestrone) seppie in inzimiinio (squid or cuttlefish with a spicy spinach and tomato sauce) is classic in Florence, ricotta and spinach gnocchi (sometimes called strangolo preti tho that name is used elsewhere in italy for other things) can be excellent. Crostati with liver pate and other toppings can be delicious. Out in the smaller places esp in southern tuscany there is a lot of homemade pasta (pici) served in ragu, based on a variety of meat and game such as the indigenous wild boar. Lots of salumi (cured pork products) special to the various areas. We liked the finocchiona, a fennel-flavored salami, also you may find porchetta in a butcher shop or market as well as tuscan cheeses - mostly pecorino (sheep) - the less-aged ones are particularly delicious but availability is very seasonal.. Look in the public markets for the fresh produce on sale -italian food is very seasonal and what you see in the market you are likely to see on your table. Do eat the vegetables - "contorni" they will be well prepared and delicious.
if you want to get an idea of what is available in some of the tuscan locales, there is some info on restaurants as well as recommended dishes (for some) on the Restaurant pages. Click on the restuarant names and additional info (if any) will appear. here is a Montalcino sample.
I would not miss Siena. It's only an hour away from FI. It's big enough to take up a whole day too. Same for Lucca.
Panzano is more of a lunch trip. There is not much to 'see' in Panzano except food. Not a bad thing of course! But not a day's worth for sure. Dario's got that lunch special for 10 euros which is a great bargian everyday but Sunday. On Sundays, he's got that full on meat tasting menu.
Will you have car?
Personally, I am a big fan of Lucca and the Garfagnana region, which is the Serchio River valley heading north from Lucca. Towns in the Serchio valley worth a visit include Bagni di Lucca, Borgo a Mozzano & Barga.
Trattoria da Leo is a good spot in Lucca for lunch. Buca di Saint 'Antonio is a good spot for dinner. La Mora, in Ponte a Moriano, is a few miles north of Lucca and is also a good choice for dinner.
If you go to the upper right hand corner of this page and do a search for Lucca, you will many a good number of other helpful posts regarding the Lucca area.