Tuscany offers a great number of inexpensive, fast and authentic street food options. Street food is also one of the fast-tracks at your disposal (and one of the more satisfying and rewarding we might add!) to get into the habits of a place, to understand a city, to really eat like the locals.
Whether you have a sweet tooth or favour savoury snacks, here is a list of 10 Tuscan street foods to flavour your holiday.
If curiosity and a mouth-watering smell brought you in Florence, queueing for a lampredotto sandwich, behind workers with paint on their trousers, clerks with loosened ties and young people with a huge appetite for life and food, be ready to make decisions. Do you want the bread to be soaked with broth? Hot sauce? Green sauce? Just salt and pepper?
Lampredotto is part of the cow’s stomach, cooked in a broth containing herbs and tomatoes, and used to fill Florence most famous panino, sold at stalls around the city (called trippai and lampredottai).
A type of flatbread made from chickpea flour, water, salt and olive oil. So simple, so tasty! The torta di ceci can be found along the upper Tyrrhenian coast, named just torta in Livorno and cecina in Pisa. To eat like a real Livornese, ask for "Cinque e Cinque", the old way to refer to 5 lire of torta and 5 lire of bread: your chickpea cake will arrived sandwiched into a round soft focaccia or a crispy baguette. Pair it with a glass of spuma bionda, an aromatic fizzy old-fashioned soft drink.
Porchetta is a roast de-boned pork spiced with salt, pepper, garlic and herbs. Panino con la porchetta, a soft bread bun with sliced porchetta, is one of the most widespread street foods in central Italy and in Tuscany is sold in kiosks in the cities, at fairs and village festivals.
Schiacciata (ciaccino in Siena), plain or stuffed, is the perfect snack, but it can also be a filling lunch. This flatbread can be crunchy or soft, raised or pressed, and is baked and topped with olive oil and salt. You can find it at any bakery or alimentari shop, plain or with olives, tomatoes, onions, potatoes; you can also make a full sandwich out of it, with a filling of could cuts, cheeses or vegetables.
Salt-free Tuscan bread fits perfectly with all types of cold cuts and cheeses: Pecorino cheese, Tuscan ham, finocchiona, salami, but also vegetables… the options are endless! A traditional and easy snack that is suitable for any occasion. Customize your panino the way you want and… buon appetito!
Necci are thin pancakes made with chestnut flour and cooked in special wrought iron plates with long handles, called testi. Traditionally, necci are rolled into the shape of a cannolo and stuffed with fresh ricotta cheese while still hot. They are a typical speciality of Garfagnana and the Mid Serchio Valley, Lunigiana and the Pistoia Mountains.
Perhaps not everyone knows that bombolone (the Italian donut) was invented in Tuscany. This sweet, soft dough, fried and coated with sugar, can be enjoyed on its own or with cream, chocolate or jam, vanishing in any case in a few bites and leaving behind sugar-covered lips. Bomboloni in Livorno have a hole and become Frati (friars), as they resemble a monk’s tonsure.
Brigidini of Lamporecchio are thin, crispy and fragrant waffles, rounded and curled, gold-orange in colour, with a diameter of about 7 cm. They are made with eggs, sugar, anise or fennel seeds, and very little water and flour. They are traditionally sold in the streets during fairs and festivals, cooked directly by vendors with the help of a special machine, before being packed in transparent, long and narrow bags.
Rice fritters are a typical dessert that can be found in any pastry shop or bakery during Carnival: crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and absolutely addictive. In Siena, from the beginning of Carnival to the 19th of March, St. Joseph, a rice fritters stall appears in Piazza del Campo to sell the traditional Frittelle di San Giuseppe.
Gelato first appeared at banquets in the Medici court in Florence. Legend has it that Bernardo Buontalenti invented the cold treat for the court of Catherine de’ Medici in 1565. Today, shops all over Tuscany sell fresh gelato, made using just a few natural ingredients, free of preservatives, artificial flavours and colours.
Let's be honest, it is always time for an ice cream: after lunch, for merenda as an afternoon snack or even at night, during a stroll through town.
Article written in collaboration with Giulia Scarpaleggia - Jul's Kitchen