Tuscany has a lot to offer from all points of view but above all, a deep love ties this land to food. Food is the most important link between territory and culture.
If you are a slow traveler it means that you live a place and not just visit it, and for sure food and wine specialities are among the most important things for you. In this article we want to suggest a “taste itinerary” with the best specialties that you absolutely must try if you visit the Val d’Orcia or the Crete Senesi.
We are very proud of the great food in Tuscany and here, between the Val d’Orcia and the Crete Senesi, you can taste excellent local products that will win you over. You will be able to discover the life of this wonderful land, meeting local people and its traditions. First you will fall in love with the typical products of our land and then you will fall in love with the people who produce them.
Here are the specialties and typical products that you absolutely must taste if you are in Tuscany between the Val d’Orcia and the Crete Senesi.
Pecorino di Pienza
One of the best cheeses of Tuscany and at the same time with the longest history. A delicacy already present on the tables of Etruscans and Ancient Romans.
A cheese produced with sheep’s milk, some fresh, some matured , spiced or aged, to be eaten alone or paired with honey, jams or pears.
In Pienza you will find many shops where you can buy or taste Pecorino cheese but what we recommend for an authentic experience is to visit a dairy where Pecorino di Pienza is produced. Fattoria Pianporcino is a farm with breeding and dairy. It is possible to take a guided tour with an explanation of the various steps of the processing and of course it is possible to taste.
The White Truffle is the diamond of the Crete Senesi. The white truffle of the Crete Senesi is one of the most prized in Italy. Its maturation period is from October to December. It has a light color and often an irregular shape. The interior is compact, light in color with white veins that give it a marbled appearance. In the kitchen it is used above all thinly sliced to give elegance to all dishes.
We advise you to experience the truffle search with the truffle hunter and his dog in the woods of the Crete Senesi. Do not miss the Exhibition of White Truffle of the Crete Senesi that takes place every year in San Giovanni d’Asso in November, two weekends full of events.
The Cinta Senese is one of the most famous excellences of this territory. One of the most prized pig breeds in the world, already painted in the fourteenth century by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the Allegory of Good Government. The cured meats and the meat itself has an intense and delicate flavor at the same time because of an exquisite fat. Probably, at the end of a delicious dinner, started with an appetizer of cinta senese cured meats, the thing that will impress you will be the fat of the ham.
You can taste Cinta Senese in local restaurants, but if you want you can get to the source by visiting one of the butcher shops in our area. For example La Bottega delle Carni or the Macelleria Mencarelli here in Buonconvento.
In the province of Siena, Pici are the sunday dish. It is a typical Sienese pasta, similar to large spaghetti made only of water and flour. During the cooking process, the pici releases the starch that causes the sauce to blend perfectly with the pici like no other kind of pasta. Traditionally they are eaten with aglione (garlic and tomatoe sauce), toasted crumbs, cheese and pepper sauce, or ragout.
We suggest you visit Mulino Val d’Orcia, a stone mill where the pici are produced in an artisanal way with flour of ancient grains.
All these specialties must be paired with a good glass of wine, and Tuscany is a land of great wines, a real jewel of world enology. An extraordinary variety: here we have within a few kilometers Brunello di Montalcino, Orcia DOC, Nobile di Montepulciano and Chianti. A passion and a history that has evolved over the centuries.
You are spoiled for choice but we want to recommend some wineries that produce Brunello di Montalcino where you can take a tour and taste.
We want to recommend small family-run businesses, where passion, love for their land and respect for tradition make a difference.
Santa Giulia: Brunello producers with an authentic family vocation. Great passion and respect for the oldest tradition of the lands of Montalcino.
Querce Bettina: A family run business with high quality natural products on the southwest side of Montalcino.
Palazzo: A picturesque farm located on the south-east side of Montalcino, this is a beautiful family-run business too.
Albatreti: A small jewel in an intimate and hidden strip of the Montalcino hills. A small production but great quality.