As part of her ideal Tuscany wine tour, Carla Capalbo shares her top picks of where to visit from the Meremma, Lucca and up the coast.
Maremma and Lucca: Where to eat and drink
Beginning to the southeast of Grosseto, Maremma’s most populous city, for simple grilled meats, hand-made pastas and local wines, Trattoria Cupi, near Magliano in Toscana, features the best of the Maremma; from €40 (www.trattoriacupi.it).
Head northwards along the E80 coastal road, past the Gulf of Follonica to San Vincenzo, where Fulvietto Pierangelini is following in the footsteps of his famous chef father, Fulvio. His new restaurant, Il Bucaniere, is an architectdesigned beach house overlooking the sea, and features locally sourced fish, meats and vegetables (www.ristoranteilbucaniere.com). Practically next door is another beachfront restaurant that is popular with the in-crowd. At La Perla del Mare, chef Deborah Corsi has won a loyal following for her pure flavours and great quality fish; tasting menu from €60 (www.laperladelmare.it).
The finest seafood restaurant on the Livorno coast is on the beach at Bibbona, close to Bolgheri, at chef Luciano Zazzeri’s everpopular La Pineta, with its one Michelin star and fabulous food and wine; tasting menu from €70 (www.lapinetadizazzeri.it). Zazzeri has also just opened an inland restaurant to serve game and other mountain foods: Locanda del Sole at Castello Ginori di Querceto in the commune of Montecatini Val di Cecina (www.marchesiginorilisci.it).
Progressing up the coast and past Pisa to Lucca, L’Imbuto is chef Cristiano Tomei’s new one Michelin-starred restaurant in Lucca’s Centre of Contemporary Art, featuring creative and experimental cuisine; menu from €50 (www.limbuto.it). At Montecarlo, inland from Lucca, Osteria Da Baffo still offers country dinners at the winery, with food that’s rustic and affordable; menu with wine from €30 (Tel,+39 0583-22381; email, firstname.lastname@example.org).
At San Miniato, halfway between Pisa and Florence, and famous for its black and white truffles, try Antico Ristoro Le Colombaie for traditional dishes using those fragrant tubers in a trattoria setting. Don’t miss the baccalà on Fridays; from €35 (www.lecolombaie.eu).
Back on the coast at Viareggio, in the Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte, chef Giuseppe Mancino’s Piccolo Principe (‘Little Prince’) merits its two Michelin stars for gourmet food complete with a sea view; mains from €45 (www.ristoranteilpiccoloprincipe.com). Or you can splash out on an elegant dinner with all the trimmings at Lorenzo, in nearby Forte dei Marmi, for some of Italy’s finest seafood, including the best fritto di mare you’ll ever eat, plus a great cellar; menu from €80 (www.ristorantelorenzo.com).
Maremma and Lucca: Where to sleep
At San Vincenzo, Poggio ai Santi is an upmarket agriturismo with sea views and olive groves. And a great restaurant. Rooms from €165 (www.poggioaisanti.com).
Podere le Mezzelune is a tasteful, small country house relais near Bolgheri, with all the personal touches you get from it being family run, as well as a beautiful garden; from €180 (www.poderelemezzelune.it).
In Pisa, if you’re visiting the Piazza dei Miracoli, where the Leaning Tower still holds sway, don’t miss the historic Royal Victoria Hotel on the Arno waterfront. It’s one of Italy’s oldest hotels and provides a perfect base in Pisa’s real centre, near its colourful vegetable market; from €90 (www.royalvictoria.it). And in Lucca, Hotel Ilaria and Residenza dell’Alba are handsome new hotels in historic buildings within the city walls; from €65 (www.hotelilaria.com).