A guide to the cuisine of Pisa

Saturday, 8 December 2014 9:41 AM

It's almost impossible to talk about the joys of a luxury trip to Pisa without mentioning the quality of the local cuisine. Needless to say, if you're a lover of fine wine and high-class dining, you'll find lots to love about the historic Tuscan city.

If you're looking to sample the highlights of the city's culinary offering, read on for our guide to Pisa's best food and drink.

Pisan cooking - the basics

The food of Pisa is diverse in style, but shares a few key characteristics - it's always tasty, never bland and is typically based around simple ingredients and flavours.

Soups, bruschetta and crostini - an appetiser consisting of small slices of grilled or toasted bread and toppings - are all staples of the local cuisine.

Typically, Pisan dishes draw on influences from land, sea and fresh water. Variations exist from one locality to the next, but all are based around a common theme to create a contemporary take on traditional Etruscan and Roman foods.

What to expect when eating out in Pisa

Obviously there's no standard that's common to every Pisan eatery, but if you dine out in the city you can expect to come across a few signature dishes.

For antipasti, the famous Volterra ham and chicken liver crostini are two favourites that are the perfect introduction to the rest of your meal. Other dishes to look out for include marinated eels and San Miniato artichokes.

Moving on to the first course, bean, farro, bread and fish soups are popular options. You can expect to see them accompanied by dry bread rubbed with garlic and chilli pepper, gnocchi 'alla Pisana' and pappardelle pasta with teal. Alternatively, you can choose dishes such as crispy maize pancakes (known as bordatino alla Pisana), tomato and bread soup (or pappe al pomodoro) and clam risotto - a must for seafood lovers.

As you'd expect, meat has a major influence on the second courses you'll come across in the typical Pisan restaurant. Cutlets of veal, lab fricassee seasoned with thyme and San Rossore larded pheasant are among the local favourites.

If you'd prefer a seafood option, you'll be equally spoilt for choice, with the likes of salt cod alla pisana with olives and tench or eel with peas appearing on many menus.

Finally, if you've left enough room for dessert, prepare yourself for chestnut cake, the Easter 'schiacciata' flat bread and a type of wafer known as Calcinaia nozza.

Pisan wine - the perfect accompaniment to a fine meal

Of course, you'll want something to wash all that delicious food down with, and Pisan wine is the obvious choice. A wide array of reds, whites and roses are produced in and around the city, with many of the local vineyards located in the nearby hilly areas.

Two wine routes cross through Pisa Province - the Wine Route of the Etruscan Coast and the Wine Route of the Pisan Hills. The former, which is shared with the province of Livorno, counts the Montescudaio DOC among the best of its Pisan wines. Reds from this area are dry, full-bodied and intense in both colour and perfume, while whites are characterised by the fruity aroma of the Trebbiano Toscano.

Fully enclosed within Pisa Province, the Wine Route of the Pisan Hills is known for the Chianti DOCG of the Colline Pisane, a fine red that only improves with age, and the Bianco San Torpe DOC, which is a dry white with a delicate taste.

If you fancy seeing the vineyards of the Pisan Hills for yourself, pick up a Pisa Airport car rental and go exploring!

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