World's Best Gelato Italy

All about Gelato & Tuscany

Rumor tells it that the Tuscans are to thank for inventing Italy’s delicious and addictive ice cream (though the Sicilians and others ardently disagree). One story suggests that an artist named Buontalenti once constructed an ice cave near Florence’s gardens for the Medici family. In it, he churned milk, egg yolks and Malvasia wine over ice creating the first milk-based “gelato.” These days, gelaterias are ubiquitous in Tuscany.

Stand-by flavors like nocciola (hazelnut), stracciatella (chocolate-specked vanilla) and frutta de bosco (berries of the forest) are joined by seasonal ones like fig, blood orange, and apricot.

Explore Tuscany to find out for yourself your favorite!
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Food and Wine of Tuscany Italy

In Tuscany, you’ll find a classic cuisine that stays faithful to long-standing Italian culinary traditions. Both rough and elegant, cucina Toscana is intrinsically linked to its rugged land, the changing seasons and an endearing obsession with fresh ingredients. Virtually every dish is seasonal and is prepared to highlight individual flavors. Recipes tend to be part of an oral rather than written tradition, so try as you might to secure that recipe for tiramisu, you’ll often be told to just combine ‘a little of this and a little of that.’ Not surprisingly, Tuscans cook and eat with their senses!

The cornerstones of Tuscan cuisine are bread and olive oil. Many Tuscan dishes use both, like ribollita, a hearty vegetable soup made with bread, and panzanella, a summer salad composed of tomatoes, basil, cucumber, onion, olive oil and bread. Tuscans prefer their bread unsalted, except for schiacciatoa, flattened dough baked with oil and salt. And the region’s dense and aromatic olive oils are among the country’s best.
notes from the field
No Tuscan meal is complete without an abundant tray of antipasti to warm up the palate. You’ll find bruschetta, slices of grilled or toasted bread rubbed with garlic, drenched with oil, sprinkled with salt and sometimes topped with tomato and fresh basil. Enjoy crostini, small pieces of bread spread with chicken liver paté. Melanzane (eggplant), asparagi (asparagus) carciofi (artichokes), zucca (squash), and porcini mushrooms will appear grilled, fried or simply doused with freshly-pressed olive oil. Fagioli (beans, white ones in particular) also make a regular appearance, especially as fagiolo all’uccelletto, white beans cooked with tomatoes, garlic, and sage.

Due to its proximity to the Apennines (mountainous interior), the region boasts some delectable meat and poultry, roasted, grilled and simply adorned with lemon. The ubiquitous cinghiale, or wild boar, is served roasted, stewed, in soups and sausages and as a key ingredient in pasta al ragu, where it is piccipastastewed with tomatoes into a rich sauce served over pasta. Arista is roast pork loin with garlic and rosemary; lombatina is grilled veal chop. There’s also excellent prosciutto, salami and salsiccia. Finocchiona is pork sausage flavored with fennel seeds; pork and wild boar sausage is everywhere, either fresche (fresh) or secche (dried).

Pasta in Tuscany tends to be heavy and flavorful. Regional varieties include gnocchi, ravioli and pappardelli. Hearty primi such as Tortelli al burro e salvia (butternut squash pillows with a butter and sage sauce), pappardelle alla lepre (egg noodles with braised rabbit) and penne all’arrabbiata (with a spicy or ‘angry’ tomato sauce) make for satisfying dining after a day of cycling those gorgeous Tuscan hills!

Desserts include heavenly tiramisu (lady fingers drenched with rum, dusted with cocoa and layered with mascarpone cheese) and panforte, a spice cake with candied fruit and nuts first served in medieval times, and torta alla nonna, a cake filled with custard and dusted with pignoli and powdered sugar in “grandmother’s style.” Other treats include blood oranges, chestnuts, wedges of parmigiano reggiano (from the north) or pecorino with walnuts, fresh figs and honey. But be sure not to miss what may be the very best dessert of all—gelato.
Food and Wine
In Tuscany, you’ll find a classic cuisine that stays faithful to long-standing Italian culinary traditions. Both rough and elegant, cucina Toscana is intrinsically linked to its rugged land, the changing seasons and an endearing obsession with fresh ingredients. Virtually every dish is seasonal and is prepared to highlight individual flavors. Recipes tend to be part of an oral rather than written tradition, so try as you might to secure that recipe for tiramisu, you’ll often be told to just combine ‘a little of this and a little of that.’ Not surprisingly, Tuscans cook and eat with their senses!

The cornerstones of Tuscan cuisine are bread and olive oil. Many Tuscan dishes use both, like ribollita, a hearty vegetable soup made with bread, and panzanella, a summer salad composed of tomatoes, basil, cucumber, onion, olive oil and bread. Tuscans prefer their bread unsalted, except for schiacciatoa, flattened dough baked with oil and salt. And the region’s dense and aromatic olive oils are among the country’s best.
notes from the field
No Tuscan meal is complete without an abundant tray of antipasti to warm up the palate. You’ll find bruschetta, slices of grilled or toasted bread rubbed with garlic, drenched with oil, sprinkled with salt and sometimes topped with tomato and fresh basil. Enjoy crostini, small pieces of bread spread with chicken liver paté. Melanzane (eggplant), asparagi (asparagus) carciofi (artichokes), zucca (squash), and porcini mushrooms will appear grilled, fried or simply doused with freshly-pressed olive oil. Fagioli (beans, white ones in particular) also make a regular appearance, especially as fagiolo all’uccelletto, white beans cooked with tomatoes, garlic, and sage.

Due to its proximity to the Apennines (mountainous interior), the region boasts some delectable meat and poultry, roasted, grilled and simply adorned with lemon. The ubiquitous cinghiale, or wild boar, is served roasted, stewed, in soups and sausages and as a key ingredient in pasta al ragu, where it is stewed with tomatoes into a rich sauce served over pasta. Arista is roast pork loin with garlic and rosemary; lombatina is grilled veal chop. There’s also excellent prosciutto, salami and salsiccia. Finocchiona is pork sausage flavored with fennel seeds; pork and wild boar sausage is everywhere, either fresche (fresh) or secche (dried).

Pasta in Tuscany tends to be heavy and flavorful. Regional varieties include gnocchi, ravioli and pappardelli. Hearty primi such as Tortelli al burro e salvia (butternut squash pillows with a butter and sage sauce), pappardelle alla lepre (egg noodles with braised rabbit) and penne all’arrabbiata (with a spicy or ‘angry’ tomato sauce) make for satisfying dining after a day of cycling those gorgeous Tuscan hills!

Desserts include heavenly tiramisu (lady fingers drenched with rum, dusted with cocoa and layered with mascarpone cheese) and panforte, a spice cake with candied fruit and nuts first served in medieval times, and torta alla nonna, a cake filled with custard and dusted with pignoli and powdered sugar in “grandmother’s style.” Other treats include blood oranges, chestnuts, wedges of parmigiano reggiano (from the north) or pecorino with walnuts, fresh figs and honey. But be sure not to miss what may be the very best dessert of all—gelato.
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Basic Italian You Should Know

Fortunately, getting around in Italy with little or no exposure to the Italian language is not very difficult. The Italians are, by nature, outgoing and often appreciate even the slightest attempt at communicating in Italian. Here are some useful words and phrases to help you get started:

English Italian
Yes Si
No No
Please Per Favore
Thank you Grazie
You’re welcome Prego
Excuse me Mi scuzi
I’m sorry Mi dispiace
Good morning Buongiorno
Good evening Buona sera
Good night Buona notte
Goodbye Arrivederci
To the left A la sinistra
To the right A la destra
Straight ahead Sempre dritto
Bicycle Bicicletta
Hotel Albergo
Scooter Moto, Motorini
Goodbye Ciao

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