Welcome to the land that has made its food and wine tradition a symbol of hospitality!

Here in Chianti, gastronomy identifies with quality, oneness with the land and the hands that turn the gifts of the earth into flavors unique.
Tuscan cuisine, and Chianti’s in particular, is based upon simple and authentic ingredients, frugal fare that in times past were prepared with what little was available to feed a family.
With time, through the quality of the ingredients and a great respect for the local tradition, the typical Tuscan dishes have become the epitome of good cooking and are now globally renowned and appreciated.

The mainstay for entrées is bread, which, toasted and seasoned with tomato, onion, garlic, basil and cucumber, gives the well-known “Panzanella”.
Another delicacy is “Fettunta”, made with bread combined with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
Toasted bread is also garnished with liver, fowl and black cabbage.
Main and second courses see olive oil as the ubiquitous ingredient. It gives each dish its unmistakable countryside aroma, reflecting the scent of the hills where it is produced.
Most famous of all is the “Ribollita”, a thick and rich soup made with stale bread, cabbage, beans, spinach, tomatoes, pork rind or hambone, all blended with olive oil, salt and pepper. This is also a frugal recipe, now an icon of this region.

Among second courses, Florentine steak undoubtedly reigns. Introduced by the English in the 17th century, using pure breed Chianina steer, from the Chiana valley between Siena and Arezzo. It must be grilled and served rare.

“Pollo alla cacciatora” (stewed chicken), “Fegatelli alla fiorentina” (pork liver), rabbit, tripe, pork loin, sausage (namely “Finocchiona”, the typical Tuscan sausage made with different pork cuts seasoned with garlic, pepper wine, salt and fennel seeds), add to the variety of main courses.
And furthermore, roasts and fowl such as thrushes, woodcocks etc.

Strong-tasting fare splendidly paired to the undisputed king of the dining table, Chianti. A Tuscan proverb says: Eat your bread to the end, but watch your wine. Buon appetito!

Gallo Nero (Black rooster) Classic Chianti Consortium

The Chianti Classico Consortium, with about 600 wine farms, was founded to preserve and endorse the Classic Chianti brand. Its origins date from 1924, when a group of wine producers met in Radda in Chianti, to protect the brand and promote the development of the Chianti region, as defined by its 1716 border.

A black rooster, symbol of the Chianti League, was chosen to represent the consortium.
Years of legal battles ensued to uphold the peculiarity Chianti Classico versus other Tuscan wines.
In 1932, 7 sub-zones were identified to distinguish the other wine-producing areas from Chianti Classico, the noblest of all, held to the strictest protocols.
In 1967 a ministerial decree introduced the “Controlled designation of origin” (DOC), further raising the bar.
In 1984 Chianti Classico is registered as DOCG (Controlled and guaranteed denomination of origin), and three years later the consortium is split in two: the Chianti Classico Consortium, which deals with possible fraud and the Gallo Nero Consortium which publicizes and enhances the wine’s reputation. In 1996, after much legal wrangling, Chianti Classico becomes an autonomous DOCG, differing in production method from common Chianti.
Finally, in 2005 the two branches join and the Gallo Nero brand is mandatorily applied to all Chianti Classico bottles.
Since 2007 each bottle is assigned an identification code allowing the consumer to track its source via the Internet.

The legend of the black rooster
During the time when Florence and Siena were fierce rivals, the two republics agreed to rearrange their respective borders. Unable to find a common ground, they opted for a race: at the rooster’s call a rider would start from each city towards the other.
The point where they would meet was to mark the new border. The Florentines wisely didn’t feed their rooster, so it awoke before dawn, allowing their rider to cover more ground.
The two met at Fonterutoli castle, where the treaty was signed and the border set in Castellina, a few miles from Siena.
Thus, since the 1920s the black rooster became the icon of Chianti Classico and is printed on every bottle.

Culinary peculiarities of Chianti and Tuscany

Since the 14th century the Chianti area has produced excellent olive oil, which has been recognized as DOP (Protected denomination of origin) by the European community.
Its production protocol requires that the olives be picked by manual or mechanical means, followed by washing and pressing.
The process can be either the traditional stone mill cold pressing or by the so-called “continuous cycle”.
In both methods, the olive paste and equipment never rise above a temperature of 28 C. Storage is exclusively in stainless steel vessels.
The oil thus reaches a maximum acidity of 0.5%, its color ranges from an intense green to a gold-hued green and displays a characteristic fruity aroma with a hint of artichoke and fresh grass.
Its quality is protected by the Chianti Classico DOP extra virgin olive oil Consortium, which is in Sant’Andrea in Percussina, in the province of Florence (Tel. 055 82285, fax. 055 82281).
At present, the consortium numbers 250 partners in the Chianti Classico area, between the towns of Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti, Greve in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, Barberino Val d’Elsa, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Poggibonsi, San Casciano Val di Pesa and Tavernelle Val di Pesa.

Terre di Siena DOP extra virgin olive oil

The “Terre di Siena” extra virgin olive oil is produced in the province of Siena, where the olive crop is an important trait of the agricultural economic and cultural landscape.
Its production protocol binds it to 33 towns in the same province, all marked by hills and valleys that reach the slopes of Monte Amiata.
The peculiar climatic and geological nature of this territory gives it a fruity scent with a sour and spicy taste.

Olive oil in Tuscany

Tuscany is Italy’s leading producer, with 50% of overall yield, its quality ranging from medium-high to exceptional.
Extra virgin olive oil is core to Tuscan fare since antiquity. One only has to recall typical Tuscan dishes such as the “ribollita”, rabbit with olives (prepared with another mainstay of the local cuisine, Chianti), and its widespread use in food preservation, as in sheep cheeses and sausages, namely from wild boar’s meat.
Every area of Tuscany has its own olive oil; nonetheless, IGP (Geographical indication protection) Tuscan extra virgin olive oil identifies the oil produced in the region.
Its acidity is below 0.6%, its color is from green to golden yellow and the scent is fruity with hints of almond and ripe fruit. The flavor is fruity. Since 1997 the Tuscan Oil Consortium protects it.

Olive oil through time

Olives, figs and grapes have since ancient times been a great source of wealth for the lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The Olive tree has been grown in Galilee since 6 thousand years, as testified by religious texts and archaeological findings.
Our forebears knew how to make first-quality olive oil; the fruit was crammed in baskets or stone basins with a hole in the bottom from which the oil dripped.
The Old Testament abounds in references to the Olive tree. To the Jews it was a symbol of holiness (remember the dove with an olive branch returning to Noah’s Ark?).
In the Bible, together with the Fig tree and grapes, the Olive tree is often cited as a typical tree of Palestine and as a source of great wealth.
Olive oil is widely adopted in the near east, finding uses in cosmetics, lighting and religious offerings. It was used in anointing rulers and in pharmacy; only the rich and powerful could afford to bring it to their tables.

Olive tree distribution

From Syria, the Olive tree found its way to the Aegean islands and Anatolia, then Greece and the Mediterranean shores.
In Crete, it was cultivated since 2500 B.C., the local monarchs made huge profits from its sale. Around 580 B.C. the tree reached Rome, along with the grape.
All of the peoples on the shores knew how to extract the oil, but the methods changed from place to place. The Romans harvested the fruit and crushed it in the “mola olearia” (stone mill).
In the Aegean, on the other hand, a beam pressed the olives with a weight attached to one end (a similar machine, dating 1800-1500 B.C., has been unearthed in Crete); the first yield was to be consumed, the following two found use in cosmetics and pharmacy.

A few trivia

Many populations, due to its value in food production and its hardiness and longevity, held the Olive tree sacred. In ancient Greece it was consecrated to the goddess Athena.
Its oil was used in the kitchen, in cosmetics and for rubbing; athletes used it to warm their muscles and prevent the foes from having a good grip, if they won the Olympics the prize consisted in an olive wreath.
The Olive tree is cited in the Iliad, the Aeneid and the Odyssey, where Odysseus recalls his nuptial thalamus, dug out of a single tree. Indian and Persian poets also cited the oil.
Strangely enough, the Chinese had no knowledge of the plant, and only started to introduce it in modern times.

Olive oil and the Romans

The Romans loved olive oil, and used it for many purposes. The Olive tree was grown in diverse regions such as Sabina, Sannio, Piceno, Veneto, along the Garda Lake shores and in Liguria, where it was apparently introduced as early as the 5th century B.C. The Etruscans, one century earlier, had turned central Italy into an area covered by wheat fields, vineyards and olive groves, leaving the Romans a rich agricultural heritage.
They used the oil for cooking and seasoning, but only few could afford it, peasants and craftsmen had to do with rapeseed oil, beef fat and lard.
Gaius Plinius Secundus, in his “Naturalis Historia”, deals at length with the Olive tree’s oil and leaves’ therapeutic properties.
After the Romans, the Benedictine and Cistercian monks, both devoted to agricultural work, took over the same activities.

A valuable food

Olive oil has great value as a foodstuff, firstly because it is produced without altering its physical and chemical properties, and secondly as it is monounsaturated, thus stable at high temperatures.
Vegetable seed oils are unsaturated, and so are liable to harmful oxidation when heated.
Olive oil lowers the risk of arterial occlusion thanks to oleic acid’s role in cholesterol metabolism. It reduces the amount of LDL in the bloodstream and preserves HDL (good cholesterol).
It also lowers gastrointestinal acidity and the occurrence of gallstones.
The best is extra virgin olive oil, rich in chlorophyll, carotenes (preventing oxidation processes), lecithin (excellent for the metabolism of fats, sugars and protein), polyphenols, A and D vitamins.

Types of olive oil

Italian law distinguishes between the following types of olive oil:
  • Extra virgin olive oil, having an acidic content lower than 1%.
  • Virgin olive oil, produced without altering its characteristics during washing, decanting, centrifuging and filtering.
  • Common virgin olive oil, maximum acidity lower than 3.3%.
  • Refined virgin olive oil, same as above, but with an imperfect taste.
  • Refined olive oils, obtained by refining of virgin olive oils, maximum acidity lower than 0.5%.
  • Olive oil, made by blending virgin and refined olive oils.
The differences between the above oils are due mainly to acidity and organoleptic properties. Nutritionally, all of these oils are equivalent, and their caloric value is of 900 kcal per 100 grams, extra virgin olive oil tastes the best.

Typical products

DOP Tuscan bread: naturally leavened and totally devoid of salt, its skin is thin and crusty. Baked since antiquity, as testified by Livy, the famous Roman historian.
It is used in typical dishes such as Panzanella and Ribollita, and is ideally suited to Tuscan sausages. Its quality is assured through the Consortium of Naturally Leavened Tuscan Bread Preservation and Promotion.
Ciaccia di Pasqua: seasoned bread found mainly in the provinces of Siena and Grosseto. It is made during Eastertide.
The loaf has a rounded shape, and is quite firm. It is oven baked and rubbed with melted pork fat.
Pici (or pinci): it’s a hand-kneaded dough containing only flour, water, and salt, worked into thin strands and joining perfectly with “agliona”, a sauce made with tomatoes and garlic.

Sausages, salami and game

Soppressata: salami made from coarsely ground pork meat and fat. Tuscany produces about 500 metric tons per year.

Boar salami: it is produced in Chianti (mostly around Siena), namely in the town of Castelnuovo Berardenga. Made from lean boar’s meat ground with bacon fat, seasoned and stuffed in gut.

Boar sausage: made from boar’s and pork meat, added with salt, pepper and chili. Produced in Siena and Grosseto.

Boar sausage in oil: made in the Maremma around Grosseto. It is an aged sausage with a characteristically strong taste; once washed and dried it is then preserved in glass jars filled with sunflower oil, pepper and laurel leaves.

Finocchione or Finocchiata (or Siena Capocollo): quite an ancient fare, from when spices were dear and pepper very expensive. The peasants substituted the pepper with fennel seeds. A typically cylindrical salami, with a sharp fennel flavor.
Yearly production is in the order of 700 metric tons. The best quality is found in Florentine Chianti.

Chianti-style salami: made in the province of Siena and sold by one single firm, it is thus found only locally. The uniquely strong taste and scent make it a fine artisanal product.

Colonnata Lard: the name ensues from the town where it is made, Colonnata, in the province of Massa Carrara, where it was the main fare of the local quarry workers. Globally renowned, it is very ancient. Made from the fat on the pig’s back, its delicacy derives from the aging method. Soaked in marble vats, it is seasoned with sea salt, pepper, cloves and coriander. It ages for at least six months.

Siena “Cinta” salami: typical of Siena, it is deep red and very aromatic. Made from lean meat coming from purebred Cinta swine, diced fat, salt, pepper, wine, garlic and sugar. Made by pork butchers in the province of Siena, namely in Castellina in Chianti, Poggibonsi and Gaiole in Chianti.

Boar ham: made by removing most fat from the boars’ hind legs, curing and aging. Produced all over Chianti, in particular in San Gimignano, province of Siena.

Chianti Shoulder: pink hued salami, made from 12 to 15 month-old pork. It is produced mostly around Siena, but is common throughout Tuscany. Still produced according to the traditional production method.

Chianti “Zampone”: salami made from pork, stuffed in the legs’ skin. Includes rind, head cuts and fat. Produced near Siena between November and January. Only one firm sells it, it is thus not easily found.

Chianti Tuna: the pork meat is boiled in white wine, only in July. Once done, it is put into oil-filled glass jars. It features the scent and taste of tuna. Found only in Chianti, especially in the province of Florence.

DOP Tuscan Ham: made from pig’s hind legs, delicate and aromatic. The genuine product must be fire-branded with the Consortium’s mark, representing the Tuscan region.

Siena “Cinta” Ham: a firm, low-fat bright red ham. Made using meat from 12 to 15 month-old purebred “Cinta” swine. Found all around Siena.

Buristo (or Burischio or Mallegato): boiled and ground swine head cuts and rind, with the addition of fried lard and strained blood. It is then seasoned and stuffed in the pig’s stomach to be then cooked and immediately eaten. The towns of Greve in Chianti and Impruneta provide the best quality.

Boar fillet: found only in Chianti, in particular in the town of Castelnuovo Berardenga. Packed in salt and spices for ten days prior to aging.

Guanciale: produced in Tuscany between September and June, mostly around Siena. Made from rind less pork cheek, salted, peppered and aged.

Mezzone: made from pork with varying amounts of beef, spices, salt and pepper. Produced all year-round in Greve in Chianti, near Florence, and almost similarly all around Tuscany.

Pheasant: nests in the whole Tuscan region, it is a prized catch for hunters because of its fine flesh, in particular the hens’, sweet and tender. It is often cooked Florence-style, with slices of bacon or truffle, as per a 15th century recipe.


Florentine steak: the icon of Tuscan cuisine. Cleaved from purebred “Chianina” steer, raised in the Chiana valley, between Arezzo and Siena. It must include the T-bone separating sirloin and tenderloin.

Tripe and “Lampredotto”: made from bovine stomach, especially around Florence.

Salted meat (Carne del Bigoncio): made from large chunks of meat cut from the lower part of the hind legs, soaked in brine and aged for at least 15 days. Produced in the province of Lucca.

Siena Loin (Lonzino or aged pork): desalted meat, seasoned and aged. Produced around Siena.

Mushrooms and Truffle

Tuscan “Porcini”: belonging to the genus Boletus, these mushrooms are found in the Tuscan birch woods. Can be eaten fresh, dried or packed in oil.

Tuscan White Truffle: a rare delicacy, light-toned and very aromatic. Found in the region, it can be picked from September 10th to New Year’s Eve. Must be consumed raw.

Tuscan Black Truffle: dark-toned, delicate scent. Picked mainly in the provinces of Arezzo, Siena and Florence, from November 15th to the 15th of March.


DOP Tuscan “Pecorino”: made from ewe’s whole milk. It is aged from 20 days to four months, depending on the firmness that is sought. Produced all around Tuscany as well as in some towns in Umbria and Latium. It is fragrant and tasty, not spicy. True Pecorino must bear the Consortium’s mark.

Siena Pecorino: white and firm, made with ewe’s whole milk. Its taste is sweet and somewhat spicy. Produced in the province of Siena and the Elsa valley between November and June.

Raviggiolo: made from ewe’s whole milk, it is a soft and slightly sweet cheese.

Marzolino del Chianti: made from ewe’s whole milk. It must be aged between 30 to 180 days. Fragrant and tasty, it gets spicy with age, produced around Siena and Florence between November and June.

Siena-style Caciotta: made in the same province with pasteurized cow and ewe’s milk, soft and delicate to the palate.

Pastry and sweets

Africani: biscuits found in Chianti and Mugello, made with flour, eggs and sugar.

Berinquocoli: sweets typical of Siena made with toasted almonds, nutmeg, cinnamon and coriander.

Tuscan Castagnaccio or Migliaccio: typical pastry made with chestnut meal during the winter months. Can be found at any baker’s in the region.

Croccolato di Siena: almond and dark chocolate sweet.

Panforte di Siena: a firm black or white sweetbread, depending on the sugar or cocoa topping. It tastes of spices or candied fruit. Peculiar to Siena, it is also found in Grosseto.

Ricciarelli di Siena (also named Marzapanetti or Morselletti): elongated almond sweets, white and spongy. Typical of Siena and Grosseto.

Florentine “Schiacciata”: found mostly in Florence, the yellow color comes from the saffron in the dough. A very ancient recipe, it is available especially during Carnival.

Rivolto: similar to crepes, can be filled with jam, chocolate or custard. Made around Siena.

Liqueurs and Grappa

Alkermes: the original recipe belongs to the Officina erboristica (herbal workshop) of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. Sweet and spicy, it is used in many sweets and in Prato baloney.

Chianti Classico Grappa: distilled from the grapes used in making Chianti wine.