As the rest of North America is entering fall, we’re entering our San Francisco “summer” now, leaving behind the chill and fog we have when everyone else is enjoying summer. The weather is glorious, reminiscent of our early summer trip to Tuscany. In an earlier post, we visited an agriturismo in the Val d’Orcia in Tuscany and I learned to make pici, a local pasta, with a traditional ragu. The remainder of our week in Tuscany also revolved around food, as we day-tripped to nearby towns. Italians take pride in their locally produced food, and so we were sure to taste the specialty of each town we visited. Here’s a sampling:
Pienza, home to 15th Century Pope Pius II and a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being a model Renaissance town, is located between the wine producing towns of Montalcino and Montepulciano. Appropriately, it has a gastronomic specialty of its own– it’s well known for its pecorino cheese. There’s a wide variety available in Pienza, and it is prized throughout Italy. I realized just how prized pecorino di Pienza is when we visited the hometown of my husband’s penpal from decades ago, Luisa. She hails from Senigallia, on Italy’s Adriatic coast. We brought Tuscan gifts for her extended family, including Vino Nobile from Montepulciano and pecorino from Pienza. Everyone was excited by the regional specialties, even Luisa’s rambunctious 4 and 6 year old nephews, who temporarily stopped their activities to excitedly tell each other, “There’s pecorino from Pienza!” Out of the mouths of bambini!
There’s also a wide variety of white beans — after all, Tuscans are known as “bean eaters.”
San Quirico d’Orcia
We came upon this lovely town in the Province of Siena on the way to visiting the terms, or hot springs, at Bagno Vignoni. It’s a quiet village where we strolled and had a peaceful picnic. We also came upon a small, family-owned artisanal beer brewery, Birrificio San Quirico, only 4 years old, which produces amber and blonde beers in small batches.
Here’s my husband enjoying a beer.
The Birrificio also makes beer jams to enjoy with (what else) pecorino.
The amber beer-based jams were available in plain, chile and ginger. The blonde beer-based jams were available in plain, mint and cinnamon.
A shop specialized in household goods.
Bagno Vignoni (hot springs at the center of town, instead of a piazza)
No trip is complete without a market tour. On our last morning, in Firenze (Florence), we visited the Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio, the second largest market in Firenze, which attracts more locals than tourists. And what a sight! There were piles of squash blossoms, figs, berries and apricots, as well as fresh and preserved meats and fish.
Thanks for coming by! I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour of the food of Tuscany. Next stop: a market in Rome. Stay tuned!
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You may also enjoy: Making Pici in Tuscany