Tuscan cuisine covers the whole spectrum of flavours and ingredients – from the farmland and vineyards to the west, to the coast in the east. And the best way to try it all? Grab a seat at a food and drink festival!
Food festivals, or sagra, pop up all over the region in the summer months. Each one is dedicated to a different ingredient or dish, from soup, to seafood, to cherries, to wild boar. Some sagra attract crowds from all over Italy and beyond, while others are more intimate gatherings organised and attended by locals.
Sagra Del Raviolo (August)
First up on your foodie pilgrimage is a trip to Contignano, a small village in the heart of Val d’Orcia, Tuscany. The Festival of Ravioli started here in 1971 and has grown to become the area’s most famous (and delicious) gastronomical event.
You guessed it: it’s dedicated to ravioli, all of which is made by hand using ancient recipes from the area. Creamy ricotta cheese is the champion filling here, made with milk from local dairy farms, and served wrapped in delicious pasta with meat or butter and sage sauces.
Perfect place to stay nearby: Parco delle Piscine (30 mins away)
Sagra del Polpo (August)
Meaty dishes and rich flavours dominate Tuscan cooking inland, but head towards the coast to enjoy fresh flavours and even fresher seafood.
In fact, the seaside town of San Vincenzo hosts an annual food festival dedicated to it! Sagra del Polpo or ‘festival of Octopus’ is organised by a local fishing association to celebrate the very best produce from the Etruscan coast. For one weekend in August, locals will prepare and serve all sorts of octopus dishes – grilled, marinated, with ravioli… with other seafood options available if you prefer.
Live entertainment accompanies the meal, filling the town with a lively, sociable atmosphere. Festivals like this are designed to bring people together over an authentic, reasonably priced Tuscan meal – so pop down and get stuck in!
Perfect place to stay nearby: Park Albatros (17 mins away)
Chianti Classico Wine Fair (September)
A food trip to Tuscany wouldn’t be complete without a stop to savour one of the region’s most popular liquid exports: Chianti wine. This strong, bold red wine is laced with fruity flavours (cherry, plum and spice) and is produced in the Chianti region between two of Tuscany’s most famous cities: Florence and Sienna.
The small town of Greve is considered the gateway to the Chianti region and plays host to the Chianti Classico Wine Fair each September. This four-day wine tasting event provides a fun way to sample the best wine the region has to offer, without forking out for pricey vineyard tours. Simply buy a wine glass (around €10) from the information booth in the Piazza Matteotti when you arrive and get your fill of wines on offer from the independent makers lining the square.
Perfect place to stay nearby: Norcenni Girasole Club (25 mins away)
Are these events enough to whet your appetite? Or have you tried and tested other food events abroad and reckon they can’t be missed?