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Tuscany

Tuscany

Tuscany lies at the heart of Italy – both geographically and metaphorically. Not only is this the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, it's also home to the simple, humble cuisine that has defined Italian food for generations. Get to know everything about this fascinating region and cook some of its most beloved recipes.

The rollings hills and romance of Tuscany appeals to so many – of all Italy’s twenty regions, it is Tuscany that creates the most enduring image of the country. We travel in our droves to take in the imperious architecture, see the world-famous art and slurp on bowls of hearty soup in between. For those of us who dream of a quiet life in the Mediterranean, it is often good-natured Tuscany that tempts us the most.

Renaissance hotspots like Florence, Siena, Pisa and Lucca entice thousands and thousands of tourists every year – the former of those is the Tuscan capital, home to some 380,000 inhabitants, as well as some of the greatest artwork and sculpture in the world. The historic centre of Florence has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982, and it’s no wonder – the cathedral square contains many protected landmarks with over thousands of years of history between them, including the towering Santa Maria del Fiore. A stone's throw away, the world-famous Uffizi Gallery contains a host of priceless Renaissance artworks, including two of the most important – The Birth of Venus and The Primavera by Botticelli. Everywhere you turn in Florence – and indeed, in Siena or any of the region’s other cities – you’re reminded of Tuscany’s historical significance, and how influential it has been on modern Italy.

Whether you’re walking the streets of Florence or hiking through Tuscany’s idyllic countryside, one thing you can expect is good food. Much like neighbouring Umbria, Campania and Emilia-Romagna, the climate in Tuscany makes it ideal for agriculture, and people here have farmed for at least 3,000 years – first the Etruscans, then the Romans, who built an empire on the back of wheat grown in Tuscan fields. A lot has changed since, but Tuscany remains the heart of Italian agriculture, producing outstanding cereal crops, fruit and vegetables, as well as some of the best pork and beef in the country, not to mention thousands of acres of vineyards, producing classic Italian wines like Chianti, Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino.

Tuscany is fortunate to have a long coastline, too – one that stretches far along the west coast of Italy, from Massa in the north to Orbetello in the south. Fishermen in harbour towns all along the coast return every day with huge hauls of seafood, including prized fish like John Dory, scorpionfish and monkfish, as well as crabs, clams, eels – almost anything you can imagine. This makes Tuscany a perfect destination for seafood fanatics as well.

Want to know more about this iconic part of Italy? Scroll down for a host of quintessential Tuscan recipes, city guides and more.

Tuscany: a complete foodie guide

Cured meats, hearty soups, delicious cheeses, knockout wines – find out more about the dishes and products that make up Tuscany's fantastic food scene and become an instant expert in the local cuisine.

Super soups

In love with lardo

There are cured meats aplenty on offer throughout Tuscany, but the one that's prized above all others is Lardo di Colonnata – cured back fat made in the Apuan Alps. We discover why this melt-in-the-mouth delicacy is worth a trip to Italy in itself.

Renaissance living

Rosticciana

These flavourful Tuscan pork ribs are the perfect accompaniment to a glass of white wine on a lazy summer afternoon.

Tuscan delights

Enter the dragon

Like the punchy fresh hit of tarragon? Then you'll love the intense Tuscan salsa di dragoncello – a sauce-dip hybrid that tastes great dolloped onto pretty much anything.

Pasta party

Florence's best gelaterias

Heading to the Tuscan city and looking for some authentic, artisanal gelato? Jennifer Cauli walks the streets of Florence to visit ten of its very best gelaterias.

Manna of life

The wines of Tuscany

Home to famous Italian wines like Chianti, Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany is one of Italy's most important wine regions. Here's everything you need to know.

Perfect partners

The chefs of Tuscany

Gaetano Trovato

Francesco Bracali

Igles Corelli

Marco Stabile