Tuscany and Umbria: Foods to Eat

The beautiful regions of Umbria, Tuscany, and Perugia are located in central Italy. They also have delicious food! Their food is simple, seasonal, and hearty. It features delicious wines and olive oil, wild produce such as truffles and wild asparagus, as well as locally-raised meats. Cucina Povera is another tradition where Tuscans didn’t let any part of an animal go to waste.

Our top picks for food and drink in Tuscany and Umbria are:

Tartufo. Tartufo is also known as truffles. These fragrant and earthy mushrooms are Umbria’s greatest (and most expensive) treasures that can be found in the wild. delicacy. They are delicious on almost everything, from tagliolini (a thin pasta), to crostini, to stuffing. But remember that tartufi, just like any other product, is seasonal. Black truffles are wild from October through March, while white truffles can be found in October through December. This means they can only be found fresh at this time of year.

Ribollita. Ribollita is a thick and hearty vegetable stew that has its roots in Tuscany’s Cucina Povera.

Pappa al Pomodoro. Florentine soup, originating in “cucina Povera”, is a stew made of tomatoes and (preferably) day-old bread.

Crostini alla norcini. Crostini, which are little pieces of toast topped with different spreads (crostini alla norcini (with black truffles), or crostini al Tufo (with capers, lemon) are very popular in Umbria. Crostini al norcina is our favorite. It’s made with anchovies and truffles as well as chicken liver.

Panzanella. A salad of tomatoes… and soaked bread from the day before. It must be hearty, unsalted country bread. This salad was originally onion-based and not tomato-based. This salad was very popular in Florence in the summer.

Porchetta. An Umbrian delight: Pork cut right from a young, stuffed pig. This can be found on thick rolls for lunch, or as an antipasto option at dinner.

Norinco. Norcino is a term that has been used to describe a range of cured meats including prosciutto and boar sausages. However, it does have one condition: They are cured in the traditional, time-tested method that originated in Norcia (hence “norcino”) in Umbria, renowned for its wild boar and other local wildlife.

Lentil soup. This hearty and classic Umbrian dish has bits of local sausage. It’s also available in Tuscany. It is often flavored with basil, garlic, rosemary, and even potatoes.

Pappardelle con la lepre. Wide ribbons of pasta are served with a meaty sauce made of hare, bacon, and cloves. This is a specialty of both Umbria and Tuscany.

Tagliatelle, fettuccine and ragu. It’s impossible to leave central Italy without tasting at least one of the ragu varieties. It is not like the American version. The ragu is made by simmering minced meat or pork, along with onions, carrots, celery, and lots of spices.

Gnocchi ignudi. Florentine gnocchi, made with spinach, eggs, and ricotta.

Triglie alla livornese. This is red mullet that has been cooked in garlic, tomatoes and onions.

Cieche alla pisana. Are you feeling adventurous? These baby eels are quick and easy to saute with eggs, then served with parmesan. Originated in Pisa.

Cinghiale. Wild boar is a Tuscany and Umbria native that is hunted. It’s often served over pasta, either as a sauce, or as its own secondo. It is gamey and delicious.

Bistecca alla fiorentina. Florence’s T-bone steak, grilled over a wood fire.

Pollo alla diavola. Flavorfull chicken flattened. A Tuscan dish.

Cacciucco del Casentino. Cacciucco di Terra or di carne is another name for this Casentino dish. It dates back at least to the Middle Ages. Mixed meats such as veal, rabbit, and pigeon are cooked in red wine, onions, celery, carrots, and garlic. The broth is then seasoned with parsley, parsley, lemon, garlic, basil, and parsley.

Gallina ubriaca. Gallina ubriaca literally means “drunken chicken” and it’s true! This dish is very popular in the Orvieto area. The secret to this dish is to soak the chicken in lots and lots of Orvieto wine.

Arista. A specialty of Florence is roast pork loin with rosemary, garlic, and other spices.

Panpepato. Panpepato is a heavy gingerbread cake that includes nuts, raisins honey, and dark chocolate. It is a Christmas tradition that is very popular in central Italy.

Castagnaccio. This dense cake is made from chestnut flour and can be found in Umbria and Tuscany.

Fichi Girotti. Amelia, an Umbrian village, is famous for its figs from ancient times. Antonio Girotti, a nationalist commander, began filling the figs in the 19th century with candied fruits, cocoa, and toasted almonds and pressing them into wheel-shaped shapes. These sweet candies are still very popular today.

Panforte. This is another popular Christmas cake made with candied fruits and peels. It’s flat and dense. This is a specialty of Siena.

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