Finally you might say 🙂 I think or no I’m actually sure Tuscany is the most talked and written about region in Italy… writing something new would therefore indeed be difficult, but this doesn’t mean we cannot share our experience! Does it? This trip to Tuscany wasn’t the first trip, I’ve already crossed it quite a few times. The thing I don’t like about traveling to Tuscany is the amount of tourists (just double the amount of people you’re imagining). That’s why I prefer traveling to the regions around Tuscany that are more or less the same when it comes to landscapes. BUT there for some cities you just have to go to Tuscany to see… you can’t get around it!! Like Siena, Firenze, etc… Most of the cities we went to this time I already visited in the past, but when the occasion presents itself are to be revisited…This time our trip guided us to Firenze, Lucca, Pisa, Volterra and San Gimignano. I’ve never been a Firenze fan though (I have the same feeling about Paris). I know it has beautiful buildings and all, but for some reason the city doesn’t float my boat :-). Or maybe it is because it is soooo busy?? I remember being there once with school and everybody was telling me about how long they had to wait in line to see “Davide” (can be found in Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze)… the thing that I’ve been wondering ever since is how I managed to get in and out in just a few minutes??? (I think walked in via the backdoor… I can’t find an other explanation .) For people who want to see Davide and don’t want to wait in line, outside there is a replica. (Not sure what Ignace was trying to grab on the picture below 😉 )
What does float my boat is visiting small picturesque towns like Volterra, Lucca and San Gimignano (or in southern Tuscany Pitigliano, Saturnia,…) that even-though they aren’t as big or well known as for example Firenze, to my opinion are as magnificent! First of all they are less touristy, feel very cozy and mostly have amazing panorama’s as they are 9/10 located on top of a hill. The only “disadvantage” about them being on top of a hill is that there are not “flat” streets… but hey, this means we’ll have to spend less time at the gym ;-).
Pisa is maybe the city in Tuscany where I have to most mixed feelings as besides the square where you have the leaning tower and the Duomo it stops… unless I overlooked things the few times I was there? Again the buildings are beautiful and you always wonder how they managed to build it??!! OK, it official now you guys think I’m a barbarian 😦 Of course when you are in the neighborhood a quick visit won’t hurt 😉 because although there nothing else to see (to my opinion) you have to have seen the real leaning tower…
I like seeing old buildings, get thrown back in history and walk around, and I don’t want to seem like a barbarian, but a good trip isn’t a good trip without some good food and wine…I do realize that I said I wouldn’t be talking about wine anymore, but hey that’s the way the cookie crumbles 😉 My preference always goes to asking local people where I should be eating/drinking… the more typical we can eat the better (I mean I’m not travelling to Tuscany to eat Pesto Genovese or Mexican food…) AND the nr 1 thing to avoid is the so called “tourist traps”!!! In this case it was Guiseppe Cantoni (from Fattoria Fibbiano) who was the source of gastronomical information in the area.
This lead us to some wonderful eateries that were exactly what greedy me and my partners in crime needed :-). Already from the moment we left home Carlos was “whining” about his quest to eatthe famous “bistecca alla fiorentina” (like a T-bone steak) during this trip… His request was my demand…so we went for a search of a good Fiorentina… Result of the search Osteria La Gattaiola. When you see an Italian “mama” in the kitchen you just know the food will be great… what I found out in this restaurant is that there are more people like my dad… I mean with the same extreme energy and always joking around (comparable with Roberto Benigni in La vita e bella)… that was a loooooot of energy in 1 room 🙂 🙂 As if the 1,2kg Bistecca fiorentina wasn’t enough food for one night, we also needed to have a “small” antipasto just to get the appetite going… (FYI, I ate something lighter O:) )
Another restaurant I definitely would like to mention is ristorante La vallata… where besides there very nice typical Tuscany dishes prepared only with local ingredients (mostly from their own yard including the meat as they grow most animals themselves) and in a refined way .They also serve pizza’s… but not your average pizza… pizza normally isn’t really to call special and yet at La vallata they manage to make it something special to also only using local ingredients to top the pizza’s like with dried duck ham, or Pecorino, pears, honey and Gorgonzola… or ‘Carpaccio di Chianina Rucola e Spolverata di Cacio di Pienza’ (all pizza’s)… I think we liked the restaurant as we went there twice in 5 days :-). They also have a very nice wine list also here only local producers (they also have Andrea Boccelli’s wine on the list) or own production with a very nice Nero Puro.
A few other places to try:
Enoteca Del Duca in Volterra: very good for refined Italian/Tuscan food
Il latini in Firenze : just fun to eat here… no fancy or special food, hams hanging around and eventhough there is a menu you’ll have to eat what they tell you to 😉 Also they do have a nice wine selection, but standard they open a Fiasco of wine…(unless you specify you don’t want it)
L’osteria di Gianni Brunelli in Siena: good food with a great wine selection.
I really had a great trip and I would like to thank everybody who helped making it so wonderful!!! Traveling with the right people is always great 🙂 After trips like this I really wonder why I’m still living in Belgium and working with SAP:-) ???