Recommended Restaurants in Southern Tuscany
Eating out in the Val di Chiana
"Locanda del Pozzo Antico" in Cortona
Cortona is situated close to the Western shore of Lake Trasimeno and can be reached from La Rogaia in about half an hour. It is one of our favorite destinations for a Sunday late afternoon. After the stroll ("passeggiata") along the Corso and an aperitif we like to eat out at the "Ristorante dal Pozzo Antico", located in a city palace from the 15th century.
Chef Paola attaches great importance to the Tuscan tradition. Accordingly, she perpares specialties like the "Fagioli all'uccelletto". This traditional Tuscan bean soup is seasoned with the same herbs as the formerly so popular singing birds ("uccelletti") which fortunately are no longer to be found on the menus of Italian restaurants. Another delight are Paola's "pici", thick Tuscan hand-rolled pasta which she serves with a wild boar sauce. For her "tagliata" (grilled beef steak) she only uses meat from the local Chianina breed.
Among the desserts we particularly like the classic Florentine "Zuccotto", a sort of semi-frozen Charlotte made with sponge biscuits soaked in coffee, a chocolate cream filling and thickly dusted with dark cocoa powder.
In summer you can sit in the romantic courtyard, in winter you can make yourselves comfortable at the open fireplace.
Locanda Al Pozzo Antico
Via Ghini, 14 - 52044 Cortona (AR)
"La Vigna" in Piazze
In the tiny village of Piazze between Città della Pieve and San Casciano dei Bagni one finds earthy Tuscan cuisine at "Ristorante La Vigna". Whoever is planning a trip to the thermal baths of San Casciano, should rather choose this simple trattoria and not one of the overpriced restaurants of the resort.
A visit to this restaurant is a bit like stepping back into the 70s of the last century. Simple furnishings, a few faded paintings on the walls and the obligatory TV-set. From the terrace the view goes over carefully tended geranium boxes to the vineyard ("vigna"), which gave name to the restaurant and provides the excellent house wine.
The "nonna" (grandma) is in the kitchen, the "nonno" (Grandpa) is serving at the tables. There is everything your heart desires in local Tuscan cuisine: bruschetta and pickled vegetables, homemade ravioli, tagliatelle and mezzelune, porc chops and grilled salsiccie (sausages), and mushrooms in all variations. Mushrooms are the passion of "grandpa" who collects and preserves them in olive oil, as well as the zucchini from his garden, which he refines with mentuccia, the wild mint growing in the olive groves.
The prices are very reasonable: a (really delicious) pizza at 5 euros or grilled sausages at 6 euros.
So who can live without damask napkins and without a trendy interior decor: This is the place for you!
Ristorante La Vigna
Via Provinciale 123
Closed on Tuesdays
"La Torretta" in Chianciano
The medieval town of Chianciano sits on a hilltop next to Chianciano Terme, a spa town with faded splendor. A few years ago the "Ristorante "La Torretta" has settled in a tower at the entrance to the old town centre.
La Torretta serves "Cucina Moderna" in a very tasteful and artistic ambience. But do not worry, you do not get “tubes with molecules”. We are in Tuscany, and that means for the cuisine, that the good ingredients growing in the area have to be turned into something even better in the kitchen. “La Torretta” uses local prodicts and for example serves ham from the Tuscan Cinta Senese pigs with refined pickled melon. Their delicate homemade pumpkin ravioli are bathed in a butter and poppy seed sauce and their savoy cabbage medallions are spiced with flakes of black truffles.
The dining room has warm lighting and floor to ceiling wine racks that also include exquisite specialties. The service is very courteous. Since the owner is a fan of Jazz the background music is very pleasant. This all might sound like a more upscale price level, but it is not. There are 6-course menus starting from EUR 50 and also the à la carte prices are very reasonable.
La Torretta Chianciano
Viale Dante Alighieri 2
53042 Chianciano (SI)
tel. 0578-31073 - mob. 3487694954 -
Closed on Tuesdays
Eating out in the Val d'Orcia
"Osteria La Porta" in Monticchiello
Not far from Montepulciano lies the small village of Monticchiello. It definitely is worth a detour just because of the wine bar and restaurant "Osteria La Porta". Daria, the owner and a passionate sommelier, will first recommend to you a wine and then suggest the matching dishes to go with the wine. On the the menu you can find such ancient specialties as quail in Vin Santo or "Gnudi". They look like gnocchi, but they are made with ricotta and spinach and do not have enveloping pasta like ravioli. Therefore they are called "nudi", i.e. naked. At "La Porta" the "gnudi" are made with kale instead of spinach to give them an even more unusual flavour. A very special Tuscan delicacy.
In summer there are a few tables on the terrace right above the gate ("porta") to the village of Monticchiello. Also inside there is not much space, so it is higly recommended to call and reserve a table before you go.
Osteria La Porta
Via del Piano 1
53026 Monticchiello di Pienza (SI)
Telefono: +39 0578 755163
Closed on Thursday
"Il Loggiato" in Bagno Vignoni
The medieval spa of Bagno Vignoni in the Val d'Orcia is a wonderful destination for a day trip from La Rogaia. After a walk and a swim in the natural hot water pools below the village we like to fortify ourselves at "Il Loggiato". In summer you can sit at small tables overlooking the historic swimming pool, that fills the square of the small town. In winter, you descend a few steps into the rustic basement room.
"Il Loggiato" is not really a restaurant, but rather a rustic Tuscan "snack bar". They are famous for their "Bruschettoni": Big roasted and toasted slices of fresh bread with toppings in all variations: classic with tomato, mozzarella and oregano; savoury with sausage meet; or delicate with Pecorino cheese, dried figs and honey; and many more...
The restaurant is tiny and I remember one autumn afternoon when the owner Jacopo had placed a huge pot on an improvised gas stove in a corner of the dining room. He had to cook the "cavolo nero" (a type of kale) from his garden for the "ribollita", the traditional Tuscan vegetable soup. "Our kitchen is just too small for it", he apologized and laughed. But we did not mind at all. It just felt like sitting in grandma's kitchen when we were children.
Via delle Sorgenti 36
53027 San Quirico d'Orcia
tel 0577 888973
Eating out in the Crete Senesi
"Locanda Amordivino" in Asciano
Asciano is located in the heart of the Crete Senesi, the stunning hilly landscape southeast of Siena. Here we made our latest culinary discovery a few days ago: The "Osteria Amordivino". The name already contains an auspicious pun: It could be either "amor divino" (divine love) or "amor di vino" (love of wine).
It was a dark cool winter evening. When we entered the dining room on the ground floor of an old Palazzo, we first noticed the friendly warmth of a crackling fire. On a huge open fireplace juicy and tender steaks were being grilled. We saw a lad bringing in a big basket of fresh artichokes and immediately we knew what we would have to eat. I chose a delicious pasta with artichokes, to be followed by tender grilled fillets from Cinta Senese pigs. For dessert we went for a remembrance of our Bavarian homeland: the good old "Royal Bavarian Cream", known in France as "Bavarois" and in Italy as "Bavarese", in a wintry Mediterranean variation with oranges, cinnamon and chestnut honey.
It was one of these many moments when we felt perfectly at the right place in our "second home" Italy!
Corso Matteotti 126/128
53041 Asciano (SI)
Have fun exploring and feasting! We hope that good food and wine will make you happy!