From Milan To Tuscany: A Food-Themed Road Trip Through Italy
Any visit to Italy is sure to be filled with deliciousness. In Rome, it’s cacio e pepe. In Naples, pizza. Head to the islands and gorge on fresh seafood. And no matter where you go, you’ll enjoy aperitivo. Lazy afternoons filled with Aperol spritzes and tasty, little morsels? Dare we say, it’s the single greatest thing about Italy.
Yes, Italy is a food lover’s paradise, and Tuscany – the central region which calls Florence it’s capital – deserves particular kudos for providing the rest of the world with many of the kitchen staples we can no longer live without (see: balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese, an expertly-mixed Negroni). We’d hate for you to miss any of the best bits, so below you’ll find a delectable road trip itinerary for your next jaunt under the Tuscan sun.
Fly into Milan, a city known for its masterful fashion and architecture, but bypass the centre and hit the A1 in your rental Fiat. There’s no time to get selfies at Bar Luca when you’ve got a full day of dining ahead.
The first stop should be KM90 Ristobottega Emilian; it’s the perfect introduction to the tastes of the region. Inside, you’ll find a store, coffee bar, restaurant and deli – a one stop shop, if you will. Grab a cappuccino, browse the selection of cured meats and cheese, and collect a few snacks for the road.
It’s a short drive into Parma, where it’s worth parking the car so you can wander the charming, pastel-hued streets on foot.Head to Pepèn, a tiny sandwich shop you’d miss if you didn’t know exactly where to look ( if you can’t decide what to order, the Arrosto Spaccaballe is the way to go). If you like organisation while travelling, book a dairy tour in the region too. As the home of parmesan cheese, you’ll find more than a few places that offer guided tours of the facility, and most importantly allow you to purchase an entire wheel to take home in your Samsonite.
Back on the road, the next stop is Modena – a city made famous by chef Massimo Bottura, whose restaurant Osteria Francescana has three Michelin stars and earned the title of World’s Best Restaurant in 2016. If the stars don’t align (or you didn’t book in advance), visit Bottura’s other venue, Franceschetta58, affectionately known as Osteria Francescana’s ‘little cousin’.
Opt for the three-course ‘smart lunch’ for €25 and you’ll still have something to brag about at home. If you’d rather lunch on-the-go, swing by Mercato Albinelli. In this charming, covered marketplace, you can sample regional favourites like tortellini or mortadella, sip Chianti and become fully immersed in the sights and smells of Italy.
You could stick to the main motorway and go from Modena straight to Florence, but a quick detour via Bologna will be worth it (though, at this point, your waistline may not agree). If you time it right, be in Bologna for dinner, and visit Trattoria Anna Maria for a bowl of Tagliatelle al ragù.
It’s a short walk to Il Gelatauro for dessert, where ice cream is churned using local and organic ingredients. Though Bologna is fast making a name for itself as a food lover’s destination, if you’ve only got a few days to taste the region, jump back in the car and finish the day in Florence. There’s still a lot to tick off your gastronomic to-do list tomorrow.
Assuming you got enough sleep and successfully digested yesterday’s many meals, it’s now time to explore one of the world’s most beautiful cities. You’ll find artisan coffee at hip spot Ditta Artigianale, a rare example of the modern coffee culture popping up in Italy. Though most people come to Florence to see Michelangelo’s David, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and the iconic Duomo, you could spend all of your time in bars, restaurants and cafes and not feel like you’ve missed any of the charm this beguiling city has to offer.
Newly opened Gucci Osteria da Massimo Botura has the Instagram factor. Trattoria Sostanza and Trattoria Cammillo are the places you cross your fingers and hope to get a dinner reservation at (the sugar-coated strawberries at Sostanza will make a long wait so very worth it).
Buca Lapi is where to head if you’re brave enough to tackle the legendary bistecca alla fiorentina – a huge piece of T-bone steak from the regional Chianina cow, which will set you back upwards of €40 but easily feed two people.
Florence is the home of the Negroni, so it’s only right that you indulge in one during your stay. For a classy affair, wander up to Villa Cora. The five-star hotel overlooks the Boboli Gardens and the view from the rooftop terrace takes in all of the city below. If you don’t feel like venturing across the river, try The Box instead. This trendy cocktail bar brings the party well into the night, but is just as pleasant for sundowners – the perfect way to round out a delicious weekend. Though if you did the whole tour again, in reverse, on your way back to Milan… we wouldn’t blame you.
Published 06 April, 2018