Nothing quite captures an ideal foodie destination like a trip to the Tuscan countryside. Sample some of the region's most famous Italian cuisine as you admire the rolling Tuscan hills and stroll through the cobbled streets in search of the best panini's and gelato in Firenze, Siena, and Tuscany's gorgeous hillside towns. Between strolling through vineyards, seeing premium olives pressed into olive oil and testing the mouthwatering famous dishes in friendly cucinas—an unforgettable culinary experience awaits you in Tuscany. And in that spirit, we've rounded up our favorite Tuscan culinary experiences (besides simply dining at the local trattoria) to navigate your mouthwatering food tour in one of our favorite Italian regions.
#1 Explore Florence's Food Markets and Sample Local Wares and Fares
Wander through San Lorenzo the Florentines' main market and embrace sensory overload as you navigate pyramids of fresh produce, butcher stands full of cured meats and cheesemakers offering tastes of goat cheese and pecorino. Sample fragrant olives, warm breads, cabrino goat cheeses, and prosciutto toscano to create the ultimate picnic in the square.
#2 Visit a Local Shepard's Farm in the Tuscan Countryside
In the Mugello Valley north of Firenze, local shepherds and butchers prepare the region's renowned cheeses and cured meats. Join a local shepherd for a tour of their farm to see a private look at where the creamy sheep's milk cheeses are made—it would be an insult not to have a taste! Wander through the farmland and bask in the Tuscan sun with a belly full of fresh warm bread, pecorino cheeses, and fettunta.
#3 Tour a Vineyard in Chianti or Multepulciano
let the silvery green Chianti hills envelop you at Villa Le Barone as you look to the horizon, enjoying a fresh glass of the region's famous wine. Then, explore the beautiful Montepulciano where you can enjoy a landscape of villas, castles and, of course—more vineyards. Venture out into the countryside and explore the area's oldest winery where you can learn about the creation of the famous Nobile di Montepulciano wines and be treated to a tasting.
#4 Explore an Olive Oil Mill
Visit a local olive oil mill in the Tuscan countryside to experience the creation of one of the main building blocks of quintessential Italian cooking. Many of these ancient mills have been pressing olive oil for generations and what a sight it is to see plump olives harvested into the silky and delicious golden oil we all know and love. Enjoy a scenic walk through the olive groves, learn about the technique of olive collection and preparation, and sip on a glass of the "green gold" or taste the freshly milled olive oil drizzled over a slice of warm bread.
#5 Take a Cooking Class in a Local Cucina
Enjoy a cooking class to learn the secrets to the widely-desired Tuscan cuisine. As you help prepare a local specialty—such as ricotta and spinach stuffed ravioli or a perfectly prepared gnocchi in butter with a confetti of fresh sage—you'll discover something critical: most Tuscan recipes have only a few ingredients, but careful techniques keep the flavors pure and "big." Appetites whetted, dine on the results in the local cucina and chat with the chefs about their secrets to a flawless tagliatelle al tartufo.
Is your mouth watering yet? Visit Italy for yourself to have a taste of Tuscany and experience firsthand how the Italians cook and eat at home. (And just think how much more your friends will enjoy your return once you serve them that crostata di ricotta you whipped up for dessert over tales of your adventure under the Tuscan sun).