If you are in Florence this Easter, a word to the wise: get out of the city and into the countryside (or to the coast). Spring is in the air and Tuscany’s restaurants are serving up a cornucopia of seasonal delights: from agnello (lamb) to agretti (a herb akin to spinach in taste and chives in appearance), variations on the colomba yeast cake theme and chocolate eggs, of course. Here are five of my favourite restaurants in Tuscany this spring.
For more information about what’s happening on Easter in Florence, click here.
La Tana di Ugo, Pontassieve
This is my local restaurant, literally sottocasa, in the town of Pontassieve, 25 minutes from Florence by car or by train. Expect well-cooked, hearty Tuscan fare, heart-stopping views of the sixteenth-century Medici bridge and a long wine list that exhibits extensive knowledge (the house wine is a Chianti Classico Riserva). In case you’re wondering, Ugo is the owner’s dog—he’ll undoubtedly patter by your table to check you’re happy. (You will be.)
Easter Sunday menu: Welcome drinks. Starters: quail’s eggs, leek and goat’s cheese toasts, soprassata, chicken liver pate toasts, fried ricotta, pear, pecorino and truffle flan. First courses: Wholewheat maccheroni pasta with chicken, pappardelle pasta with lamb and peas. Second courses: Oven-baked suckling pig stuffed with artichokes. Sides: Sweet and sour onions and devilled potatoes. Dessert: Yogurt and blueberry pudding. Includes water, wine, coffee and a digestivo.
La Tana di Ugo, Via Ghiberti 15, Pontassieve
45 euro, children 0-3 years go free, children 4-10 years pay 25 euro.
Also open for dinner on Easter Sunday and Monday with the usual a la carte menu
To book, email email@example.com or call +39 055 8392929.
Ristorante Campo del Drago, near Montalcino
If you are anything like me, then any excuse is a excellent one to escape to Montalcino, especially to the sprawling beauty of the Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco estate, award-winning winery meets vast luxury hospitality complex.
This Easter Sunday, steal away to Castiglion del Bosco for Sunday brunch featuring seasonal specialties by chef Enrico Figliuolo (steak, lamb, risottos and pasta dishes), just-picked vegetables from the garden and the chance to venture into the kitchen. Visiting food artisans—Tuscan chocolatiers Vestri, butchers Fracassi near Arezzo and dairy farm Podere il Casale from Pienza—add scrumptious culinary corners to the festivities. Pre or post brunch (12 noon-3pm), a winery tour is a must!
Ristorante Campo del Drago, Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, Località Castiglion del Bosco, Montalcino
75 euro, children up to 12 years half price.
To book, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +39 0577 1913001.
Villa Medicea “La Ferdinanda”, Artimino
All springtime drives in the Tuscan countryside should lead to a Medici villa. Tenuta di Artimino was designed by gelato genius Bernardo Buontalenti in the sixteenth century as a hunting residence for Florence’s foremost family. Today it stands squarely as a dishy destination for history, food and wine lovers. (The rose’ wine Vin Ruspo Barco Reale di Carmignano 2015 is infinitely drinkable.)
This Easter Sunday, treat your family and friends to a noble lunch styled by executive chef Michela Bottasso: Welcome drinks and canapés, Ricotta flan in puff pastry on red pepper sauce, Asparagus parcels on pea puree, Artichoke and rigatino risotto in a parmesan wafer, Veal in a pistachio and almond crust with sautéed vegetables, Roasted lamb and potatoes, Strawberry cheesecake. A vegetarian menu is also available.
Villa Medicea “La Ferdinanda”, Tenuta di Artimino, Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII 1, Artimino
55 euro, children 4-10 years 30 euro.
To book, email email@example.com or call +39 055 8751426.
Locanda di Pietracupa
Birdsong is in the air as you turn off the Firenze-Siena superstrada at the San Donato in Poggio exit. Locanda di Pietracupa made international headlines a couple of years ago when George Clooney and his wife stopped by for lunch on their Vespa. But locals have known about this elegant but unpretentious place for years. The food is always perfect and the wines (the list is long and varied, glistening with gems) aerated to brilliance.
Easter Sunday lunch menu: Artichoke flan with butter sauce, Cream of pear and blue cheese with fig bread, Pappardelle with duck ragu, Artichoke orzotto with green apple and guanciale, Beef fillet with pink pepper sauce and horseradish, Fried lamb cutlets with salad and edible flowers, dessert, coffee and water.
Locanda di Pietracupa, Via Madonna di Pietracupa 31, San Donato in Poggio
To book, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +39 055 8072400.
Stuzzicheria di Mare, Livorno
Never have I tasted fresher fish than at Stuzzicheria di Mare in Livorno. Shun the ostentatious and overpriced lungomare restaurants in favour of this fishmonger-turned-eatery. Start with the crudo: a platter of iodine-rich, raw, no-idea-what-I’m-eating seafood morsels. Do the experience come si deve and eat what the friendly, no-frills staff suggests: the livornesi have inside knowledge when it comes to cooking the catch of the day. And yes, they serve an astonishing cacciucco, the city’s famously intense fish stew.
Stuzzicheria di Mare, Piazza Mazzini 66, Livorno
No set menu for Easter
Open for lunch only on Easter Sunday and Monday
To book, call +39 0586 881121.