About the where and how: Eating and drinking out in Tuscany
There are few things in his life that the Tuscan pays more attention to than eating and drinking. No wonder that Tuscan cuisine is world famous. French cuisine can also be traced back historically to Tuscany. In return, the Italians are generally prepared to spend a lot of money on restaurant visits, it doesn't have to be the newest car at short intervals. The age of the cars parked in front of a restaurant says nothing about the dining culture of the guests.
Italians like to go out to eat, not only because of good restaurant cuisine, but also to be around people, to chat and to find out everything that is human about them. Eating and drinking in Tuscany is a social event in addition to sensual enjoyment. Dinner in particular (Italian “cena”) starts quite late in the evening (after 19.30 p.m.) and lasts until late at night. The children are happy that they are allowed to play catch around the tables, the television is on without anyone watching and the guest sees happy faces around them. The food is served at intervals, counting “courses” makes no sense, there are always some starters and some main courses with the appropriate wines and finally cheese, cakes, desserts and fruit together with a round of fine grappa at the end. Since the Tuscan takes a lot of time to eat and the entertainment in a happy group is just as important as eating and drinking, you only see cheerful guests in the restaurants, but hardly ever conspicuously alcoholic. Although there is now a zero alcohol requirement for drivers throughout Italy, there are no noticeable changes in evening eating and drinking habits. There are also no problems with smoking in the south, as life is mainly outdoors in summer and pretty much every restaurant also has places outside, even on the sidewalk.
The bill, coperto and the tip
For Germans it is sometimes incomprehensible that the innkeepers in Tuscany find it difficult to divide up food and drinks per person when doing the billing. The Tuscans often pay at the table in the restaurants, ie one of the group at the table is chosen in advance to pay the bill. The landlord settles accounts with this person and the bill is split later at home. In many restaurants, a "Coperto" is charged for the meal, which is an additional charge for the cover (cutlery, crockery, napkins). This is usually so common and not a "rip-off". Opinions differ about the tip. Although some say that the "Coperto" already covers the tip, others say that an additional tip can certainly be given. 1-2 euros are sufficient for this. A general statement about tips depends on the type of restaurant and many other factors (touristy area, nice small talk with the chef, how the waitress treats the children, an extra water bowl for the dog, etc.). From my own experience it can be said that about 10% of the invoice amount is sufficient. You should also tell the waiter if the food was good and praise the chef. If the food and service were really excellent, and this is also signaled, the waiter will not be unsettled if, exceptionally, you give a significantly larger tip (own experience). With a good meal you should definitely not go without a tip, no tip means that the food was not tasty. If you are unsure, you can definitely use “German” standards when tipping (at least in Tuscany). The people of Tuscany value tourists very much, are exquisitely lovable and hospitable, knowing that every guest from a foreign country contributes to the high level of general prosperity.
The Coffee Bar ("Bar")
The simplest and most common place is that Coffee bar or just called "bar". You have to get used to the fact that you meet in the bar mainly on bright days to have coffee and small snacks. Here the Tuscan drink his espresso in the morning until around noon; Cappuccino has now replaced milk coffee (one part espresso and two parts milk) as a breakfast drink. Since Italian coffee is roasted differently than German coffee, it is actually much more digestible. By the way: if you order a cappuccino with your meal, you are signaling to the host that you are not full yet. The bar is generally the meeting point in the area, here you always go in briefly to drink an espresso, take a look at the newspaper, maybe have breakfast and have a little gossip. Tipping is not common in the bar, but there is often a coin jar on the counter waiting to be fed. The Italian breakfast consists of croissants or cake, possibly with honey or jam. Sausage and cheese are mainly served for the sake of the Germans. The bar is perfect for such a morning snack. Some bars offer “piatti caldi” at lunchtime, that is, small, warm dishes, mostly what you usually eat as starters.
Lunch in Tuscany
The lunch menu is now heavily influenced by the fast food chains. Not that there are hamburgers everywhere, the Italian doesn't think much of that. But there are many restaurants that offer lunch for working people ("Pranzi di Lavoro" or "menu prezzo fissato"), a daily menu that still (and hopefully for a long time!) Consists of the classic triad of food: Starter (pasta in different variations) main course (generally a schnitzel or roast with vegetables) and the dessert. In addition, ½ l of wine is served per person, followed by an espresso. The price for this adequate and complete menu is around 10 €. For tourists who travel a lot in the area to see and experience as much as possible, it is advisable to look around lunchtime for restaurants that offer a “Menu prezzo fissato” or “Pranzo di lavoro”.
Dinner in Tuscany
As already mentioned, dinner is then a social event. There are different categories of restaurants, especially in Tuscany and there in the rural regions it is all the same that the food is typical of the area and even the simple house wine goes perfectly with the meal. Of course, the “Cena” also consists of the classic triad: Primo, Secondo, Dessert, but depending on the category of the restaurant and the wishes of the guest, there is also a very rich starter (antipasti), if desired also soup and two different ones Main courses (fish and meat) For dessert, the choice is even larger, from ice cream dishes to tarts, fruit and pudding together with all kinds of brandies and, as is so often the case during the day: espresso, but now "corretto", ie with a shot Grappa. That doesn't disturb the later, blissful sleep in the least.
The categories of the restaurants overlap, the best thing is to find out about the prices from the menu before visiting a restaurant. Even in simple pubs, the bill can turn out high according to German ideas if the different offers are tried out. But what is a vacation in Tuscany if you don't try the pleasures of the different tables. And it should be noted that in almost all eateries a "coperto" is charged per person, that is simply the price for the set, decorated table, usually with cloth napkins.
If you don't feel like having a varied menu, simply go to the Pizzeria. As a rule, the pizzeria does not open until the evening, there is pizza from the wood-fired oven, which is always tasty for pizza lovers. Pizza is an exceptional food, so to speak, so the “triad” falls by the wayside, at best you order pizza with a salad and a dessert and of course together with the house wine (“Vino della casa”). For families it is an inexpensive way to enjoy the evening in an Italian ambience, because in Tuscany too, young people in particular like to go to the pizzeria. It doesn't have to be lavish every night.
Ristorante pizzeria is the mixture between a restaurant and a pizzeria with a correspondingly rich menu. This is a popular restaurant of the Italian family, the children eat their pizza and the parents order the usual menu. The prices are moderate, family-friendly and it is quite casual and cheerful anyway. Rather not suitable for people who value a quiet environment when eating. You will often find this "Ristorante - Pizzeria" in the tourist seaside resorts and the much-visited tourist attractions in Tuscany.
tavern is a restaurant with a regional character, family-run, often as a specialty restaurant, e.g. B. fish or grilled dishes. Here, too, the prices are quite affordable, but with a clear upward trend, depending on the particularity. In return, you will be pampered here with excellent dishes. In some trattorias there is no daily menu, the cook will put together the dish for you according to his suggestions. Even if you hardly understand anything that is offered to you, you will neither starve to death nor get anything inedible if you simply trust the recommendations of the restaurant. In these restaurants you will find typical Tuscan cuisine.
The Restaurant is then more of the upscale eatery with a wide menu and selected wines. Go there if you really want to eat well and be prepared to pay the price for it. But you will be really pampered, the service is attentive, the ambience is neat and calm and you learn to understand why you can't gobble down dinner in an hour. Probably after your meal the landlord will visit you at the table, inquire about your origin and give you the feeling that you have made a friend. And if you rate your stay according to your upbeat mood, then the evening was actually inexpensive because it was interspersed with priceless impressions and sensations.
The Osteria occupies a special position. In the past, these were simple hostels or restaurants in the town. Here was the meeting place especially for the common people, where they ate and drank. It was customary for someone in the kitchen to cook simple dishes, often in large containers, and there was plenty of drinking to go with these folk dishes. So the osteria was not infrequently what is in our linguistic usage the quite amiable pub, just the inn on the corner, at the port, on a large thoroughfare not only for the residents but also for the traveling and traveling people. In those cases in which the inexpensive and thoroughly tasty quality of the kitchen got around, the Osteria was often visited by an upscale audience, simply because of the inexpensive quality of the food. It didn't matter that the plates were served on an uncovered wooden table without napkins. Today the Osteria can no longer be clearly classified. In pristine areas it can still be the rustic village inn, but it is not uncommon for you to find an osteria, a specialty restaurant with highly decorated chefs and a correspondingly highly qualified preparation of the dishes. So you should definitely check the prices on the notice in front of the restaurant before entering the osteria.
Kitchen for house guests
As a special feature for the holiday guest in Tuscany, there is also the option of renting a house in which the owner's family cooks Tuscan cuisine for the guest. As a rule, a menu prepared in this way for house guests costs between € 20 and € 30 per person and includes everything you would think of as Tuscan, i.e. several dishes, drinks and desserts. Add to that the family atmosphere, the genuine effort to introduce you to the cooking secrets of the Tuscan cuisine and definitely an unforgettable evening. With our sponsor partner www.draumtuscany.com you can inquire specifically about accommodation with Tuscan cuisine or about wineries with tastings that include a rich cold platter in addition to the wines of the estate and are often offered to guests free of charge.
Food at the village festival (Sagra)
If you are spending your vacation in the rural regions of Tuscany in particular, look out for posters that read “Sagra di …….”. This is the announcement of a village festival, usually in honor of a saint or as part of Thanksgiving. Specialties from the area, e.g. B. chestnuts, mushrooms, artichokes or delicate preparations from regional fruit and vegetable cultivation. The villagers cook it according to traditional house recipes. The good wine from the area goes without saying. In the evening the village music plays, you can dance and you have the opportunity to see Tuscan people partying. The food is often served in self-service plastic plates, so your taste buds shouldn't be bothered. The southern temperament, the cheerfulness and infectious cheerfulness you get for free on top. You are sure to come back with pleasure in the coming year to celebrate, eat and drink in Tuscany.
Last updated: 19.05.2020