This past summer my sister and I planned a vacation together, with our children, both aged ten.
It was completely focused on where we could find the best food.
Where else could you find delicious meals that adults and kids love than Italy? Our only problem was deciding which region to settle on.
Emilia-Romagna, known to be one of the best food destinations in the world, was high on our bucket list, but we weren’t satisfied that it would be blockbuster enough for the kids’ growing bucket list.
We decided on the Tuscan region so we could see Florence and other small legendary towns in the region, and of course we were very excited to dine at some exquisite restaurants in Tuscany!
We also wanted to experience staying in an agriturismo (working farm stay) near a beach so we could cool ourselves down after all that mouth watering pasta.
But even if you don’t travel with kids, Tuscany would be a lovely choice for a special trip to Italy and is one of the top Italian honeymoon destinations.
My husband, Andrew, discovered the website Agriturismo in Italy – The Guide to quality Farmhouse in Italy! and found one named La Lespa, located in a small town called Pomaia, only a two hour drive from Florence.
La Lespa was exactly what we were looking for in an Agriturismo.
It was quaint, clean, simple and rustic. It had a pool, it was quiet, and it had lots of farmland and animals and it was only 20 minutes from the beach.
From the farm, we could easily drive to Pisa, Volterra, Lucca, Siena, and the (white sand) beaches of Rosignano Maritimo in Livorno, and even a secret local beach.
But, for now I want to dive into the amazing Tuscan food we discovered while visiting.
Memorable Restaurants in Tuscany
When I first visited Florence with my husband in the year 2000, we went to ristorante Cibreo, and I remember it to be one of the most memorable meals of my life.
So of course, 14 years later, I took my daughter, but opted to go to Cafe Cibreo across the street instead to save some euros.
It did not let us down with more incredible food to remember.
The kids had pasta with red sauce and my sister and I had a tray of hors d’oeuvres, called vassoio di antipasti, which is a fresh vegetable-based meal. Perfect complement to a hot July day in Florence.
Ever wondered what a cow’s stomach tastes like?
Well at the Nerbone you can try. Lampredotto, as it’s known in Italian, is best paired with Trippa alla Fiorentina, in other words, tripe Florentine style.
For the not-so-adventurous you can have some beef cheeks or Bollito (boiled beef). The Bolitto was sold out for us, so if you’re tempted be sure to get there early.
Doors close at 2pm. You must ask for the green sauce – it is unbelievably good and is an excellent condiment for all dishes.
Le Pieve di Pomaia was a 5-minute drive from our Agriturismo La Lespa. This is basically the only restaurant nearby, and it’s actually a good one.
The best thing to order here is pizza; they have 20-30 different types of pizzas, enticing you to re-visit each night and switch up your pizza flavours.
We ate there almost every night.
We couldn’t resist having the house specialty called, Le Pieve , a meat pizza topped with regional salami such as speck (a cured ham), soppressata, (a dry pork sausage), and pepperoni.
This place is great for children; they can run around the grounds, not to mention the great sunsets.
Our farmstay host told us Livorno (next town after Pomaia) was his favourite local beach to visit.
He said very vaguely, “Enter ‘Quercianella’ into your GPS and when you arrive, you’ll see a castle, then park somewhere and walk down to the sea.
At the bottom of the path we were happily surprised by a very wild and natural beach. It was very secluded and full of red pebbles. There were also lots of birds that we couldn’t identify – just paradise.
After a few hours, we headed towards the car and decided to lunch at:
The restaurant was huge and the view of the sea and mountains was breathtaking.
My sister and I had the Spaghetti Vongole, her son had Milanese, and my daughter had the ragu. The dishes were all very good and the scenery was unmatched.
The owner and staff made us feel comfortable and allowed us to linger for hours and just enjoy the environment.
If you are in the area of Livorno, make sure you stop here; you won’t be disappointed.
La Carabaccia Trattoria is a great small restaurant that offers only three plates and one appetizer daily. The menu is handwritten on a chalkboard outside.
They specializes in seafood, and to that extent, serve exclusively the catch of the day.
They love to accommodate children and offered a simple pasta with red sauce, which was not written on the board. Simply ask them and they are happy to fire it up.
It was a good respite after a long day of sightseeing.
I found this restaurant in Rick Steve’s Italy 2014 guide. He was right on the money for recommending this taverna.
It was a little more “fancy-pants” than the other restaurants I previously mentioned, but OH so good!
My daughter ordered tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms; my nephew had Tagliatelle of beef; and my sister had pasta with truffle, which was in season.
I had the chocolate pasta, which is not uncommon in Tuscany. Cocoa powder is mixed in when preparing a traditional flour and egg recipe for pasta, which gives it the color we associate with chocolate, and a hint of the bitterness one tastes when they have dark chocolate (it’s not sweet).
It is often served with a ragu sauce; mine was paired with wild boar.
Given that there was a boar displayed in the front of the restaurant, I figured it would be good.
We were also served a complimentary welcome soup of green pea, potato and olive oil. At the end, we thought we should be like the Europeans and order a cheese plate for dessert.
Tuscany is a path well-beaten, but this region still has treasures that need to be found; and like us, if you’re hungry enough, you’ll find them.
Planning a trip to Tuscany
- Booking.com has 15,000+ hotels, apartments and hostels in Tuscany. You get free cancellation on most rooms and a best price guarantee.
Flights to Tuscany
- Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline (no extra fees).
Food tours in Tuscany
Car Rental in Tuscany
- RentalCars.com is the world’s biggest car rental booking service that compares all the major brands like Hertz, Avis, Alamo, and Europcar.