Culture

The Best Restaurants In Tuscany, According To 5 Tastemakers

Dine at charming trattorias before exploring the capital’s Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Tuscany is a region renowned for its sumptuous yet straightforward cuisine – with panzanella, cured meats and truffle among its famous offerings. So where do those in the know dine? Five tastemakers share their most-loved Tuscan restaurants – from stylish spots in the capital of Florence to hidden, hilltop haunts. By KATIE BERRINGTON

Lifestyle

Carolina Bucci, jewelry designer

“Whenever I am in Florence, the one place that I always make sure I eat at is Cantinetta dei Verrazzano. Perfect for a quick lunch on the run, it’s certainly not one of the famous destination restaurants, but it has the most incredible focaccine and wonderful pastries. After a long morning in the office, a stroll through Piazza della Signoria with a focaccia with peas and cream cheese, and a fresh pomegranate juice, is my fuel for a busy afternoon. If you have time, the pecorino plate with honey and orange zest is a Florentine wonder, too.”

Locanda il Paradiso is famed its perfect pasta dishes and tagliere toscano – a meat board of Tuscan cold cuts

Amber Guinness, cook and writer

“Locanda il Paradiso. I’ve been going to this hilltop restaurant all my life. It sits in the tiny hamlet town of Chiusure, the artichoke-growing capital of Tuscany. This village is made up of a tiny cluster of old houses and looks like a film set – the restaurant sits in a tiny square and is adorned with fairy lights. It is so high up that the views over the Crete Senesi towards the Val d’Orcia are unbeatable. When I was young, my mother would always drive us up there with guests for a sundowner, as the sunset is so glorious. Back then, it was run by Emmanuela and her husband, who handed the reins over five years ago to their daughter Pamela, who has turned this out-of-the-way workman's restaurant into a roaring success that is popular with locals and high-end tourists alike. Pamela is a stickler for tradition when it comes to Tuscan food, though, so if you are looking for anything fancy, this is not the place for you. Emmanuela is still in the kitchen, rustling up five or six perfect pasta dishes – the most famed of which is her pici cacio e pepe.

The restaurant also hosts the annual Artichoke Festival once a year, in spring, when the baby artichokes are at their best, preserving them in olive oil and bay leaves to be enjoyed all-year round. I always order a plate of these carciofini alongside a plate of some delicious tagliere toscano – a meat board of Tuscan cold cuts. And, if you happen to be in this part of Tuscany in November, Paradiso’s white-truffle menu is second to none; local truffle hunters reserve the best white truffles for Pamela.”

Osteria delle Tre Panche delivers delicious Tuscan dishes, plus views over Ponte Vecchio

Barbara Casasola, designer

“Trattoria Cammillo, which is my go-to neighborhood trattoria. It’s around the corner from my studio and a Florentine classic. It’s a place that treats you like family and there’s always a friend to bump into. Also: Osteria San Michele at Villa Lena – an artist residency and boutique hotel run by my dear friend Lena. It’s a genuine farm-to-table restaurant that sits on a Tuscan hilltop with incredible views. I can’t count how many great nights I’ve had there.”

Margherita Cardelli, designer and co-founder of Giuliva Heritage Collection

“Trattoria 13 Gobbi in Florence, where I eat almost every time I am in town. It has such a rich, typical Tuscan menu, that’s so well cooked I dream about it when I am at home! Rigatoni with tomato and mozzarella, and all the meats are to die for. I also love the friendly Florentine attitude that the staff have. My second [favorite] is every Dario Cecchini restaurant in Chianti – there’s no better spot for a true Tuscan meat experience: it’s true, super-good food with zero fuss. And, for after the meal, the area is spectacular, which is a plus.”

Enjoy farm-to-fork fare at Osteria San Michele

Lucia Caponi, head of design at Loretta Caponi

“I really love Trattoria Sostanza, because, after more than 100 years, it still reflects the essence of true Florence. It’s not too visible to the crowds, it’s family-run (which you can feel in the atmosphere), and it has a traditional Florentine elegance – which you can recognize by the simplicity of its food, and a décor that consists of just six or seven classic marble tables, plus walls full of old pictures and Tuscan paintings. Above all, I love this place because of two dishes that are more than delicious, they’re kind of magic: the tortino with artichokes and the butter chicken served in a hot small pan with a splash of fresh lemon juice. It’s not so easy to find a spare table, so I suggest you try to book in advance.

“Another place that I adore is the Osteria delle Tre Panche. It’s quite unique having amazing truffle-based dinners or lunches on a rooftop terrace next to the Ponte Vecchio, overlooking the bridge and the main monuments of Florence, especially Palazzo Vecchio. Everything is special here. The food, the view, the people. If you want to reserve the table in front of Palazzo Vecchio, prepare to dial their phone number now. I hope it’s not too late already.”