Three Perfect Days in Florence. Wine, History and Food. What More Could You Ask For?
Florence, one of the most culturally relevant cities in the world. A city so beautiful, so rich with art, history, and poetry it almost seems as surreal to walk around the first time as it does the 100th time.
Our wine experts have lived and traveled to Florence and have come back with tips & tricks to get the most out of your Florentine experience. Whether you stay for three days or three years, you must experience Florence the right way. We are here to help.
Florence is known for many things, but the real treasure is found in its food and wine culture. For centuries, Florence has catered to the elite, and what comes with that is a high end gastronomic culture and service that matches. It is common for most Florence waiters to have studied and received their “PHD’s” in Florentine food and culture.
Dating back to the de Medici era, a common practice in Florentine culture was to indulge in the Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a massive portion of steak that comes from the pampered and large Chianina breed of cows. The Chianina breed is one of the largest and oldest cattle breeds in the world. They have been raised in central Italy (including Tuscany) for around 2,200 years. Once the cattle is butchered, it is hung for 15-21 days compared to one or two days for supermarket quality cuts of beef. The cut of meat used for the Bistecca alla Fiorentina is the sirloin with the middle of the cut having the recognizable “T” bone present, with the fillet on one side and sirloin on the other. These cuts of meat are not for the faint of heart, or someone who is not starving. Typically, the cut is around 1 kilogram with larger cuts even going up to 1.5 kilograms. It is normal for a table of three or four to share a bistecca alla fiorentina due to the gargantuan portion. To prepare this cut, it is preferred to light very hot charcoal derived from either oak or olive trees. Only live charcoal coals are to be used, any other form of cooking the steak is strictly forbidden. The piece of meat then is cooked at a very hot temperature to ensure a crust forms due to the maillard reaction, locking in all of the flavors of the high quality meat and not spewing out onto the charcoal. True Florentine cooks insist that the steak is to be turned only once while being cooked, with each side cooking for 3-5 minutes and not a second more. To finish cooking, the steak is then stood up and remains on the grill for another 5-7 minutes. The steak is bloody rare in the middle with a visible crust on the outside. To cook it more would be a travesty and sin to the Florentine people and their culture. It is finished with high grade salt and that is usually it. To add other ingredients like pepper would mean the quality of the meat is inferior.
With a meal like the bistecca alla fiorentina you will need an equally luxurious wine from the Sangiovese grape. A Brunello di Montalcino is a classic pairing as well as a Chianti Classico or Riserva. Azienda Agricola Casa Raia produces an exceptional Brunello finding their vines right below the town of Montalcino. The winemaking philosophy at Casa Raia is “the vines determine the wines” really showcasing the health of their soil and grapes. 100% organic Sangiovese grapes with the alcohol content usually hovering around 14.5%, this exceptional wine can stand up to the hearty bistecca alla fiorentina. Another wonderful option is the Brunello di Montalcino from Stella di Campalto. Wine nerds, sommeliers, and bottle hoarders all agree on this wine being a true standout from this region. As they are one of the first certified biodynamic producers in Montalcino, the attention and care given to the vines is second to none. This wine has an aspect of finesse that most other wines from Tuscany don’t even come close to. An exceptional wine from the Chianti region to pair with a bistecca alla fiorentina is the Chianti Riserva DOCG by La Ginestra. 100% organic Sangiovese grapes make this fantastic wine that is aged for at least 12 months in old barrels leading to notes of dark stone fruit rounded out by an earthiness that lingers on the palate.
Florence’s historical importance to art, culture, and gastronomy is second to none. One might even say that a perfectly cooked bistecca alla Fiorentina could be considered the ideal complement between art and gastronomy. Pair an exceptional glass of wine with the steak, and it even becomes transcendental. The beauty of Tuscan cuisine shows the quality of the raw ingredients, which sometimes sounds easy, but as we have learned, sometimes the “simplest” dishes are the hardest to master.
After spending endless amounts of time in Florence, we have drawn together the perfect city guide for eating and drinking your way through the city:
One of the standout restaurants in the heart of Florence that serves an exceptional bistecca alla fiorentina. Loved by locals and tourists alike, this no frills trattoria has been satisfying carnivorous patrons for decades.
Another restaurant excelling in the Florentine steak. Long been known by locals as one of the best Florentine steak experiences in the city, it is now known by hungry gastronomes from all corners of the world looking for a traditional experience.
Known for their extensive wine list, elegant indoor settings, and attention to detail, serve another exceptional Florentine steak. Their wine list has wines from all over Italy and is known to cater to international clientele that come back to Florence just to eat at this restaurant.
Trattoria da Burde
Opened at the beginning of the twentieth century as a grocer's shop and trattoria, this historic restaurant is a long way off the usual tourist trail, but slowly becoming more well known due to its high quality ingredients and historical importance.
Arrive by noon to ensure a spot at this noisy, busy, brilliant trattoria – a legend that retains its soul (and allure with locals) despite being in every guidebook.
Big Hammer Wines
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