If you are looking for a different Tuscany, still not overrun by tourism, then you should think of the countryside between Siena and Arezzo, near Monte San Savino, a beautiful medieval town considered the birthplace of the Chianina cattle which produces an excellent meat. The Florentine T-bone steak is one of the dishes to be tasted in the many restaurants in Monte San Savino, but you can also buy it in the butchers inside the walls of the historic village. The butcher’s shop “ Da Aldo”, for example, is the right place for steak lovers.
Aldo Iacomoni is a maître à penser of Chianina and supplies only from local farms who knows personally. In the square Gamurrini, next to the butcher, Aldo has also opened a sort of restaurant where you can sample its sausages and its legendary porchetta. Porchetta is a typical Tuscan dish and consists of a whole roasted pork, seasoned with garlic, fennel seeds and other spices. The Porchetta from Monte San Savino is well known because it comes from local pigs that have the right dose of fat. But the real peculiarity of this porchetta lies in cooking, which takes place into ovens with a fire made from heather. The woods around Monte San Savino are very rich of heather, and its wood in just 20 minutes brings the oven to a temperature of 400 ° C, and as it is an aromatic essence, it gives to the meat a particular scent. Just outside Monte San Savino, in the direction of Siena, you will find the Belvedere restaurant, the best place to taste the local dishes accompanied by wines produced in the vineyards around Monte San Savino. Massimo Rossi, the owner, has invented a Chianina meat sauce with laurel that was later copied by all other local restaurateurs. Massimo pays much attention to the products, and he has the possibility to find many biological products around. The whole area around Monte San Savino and the nearby Val di Chiana (one of the largest plains of Tuscany) offer organic meats, grains, vegetables and extra virgin olive oil. In short, if you want to taste a product, for example a bread made by ancient grains flours, the restaurant Belvedere is the ideal place (www.ristorante-belvedere.net).
The best place to stay is Mansalto and Montemaggiore, a beautiful estate that produces excellent wines and a great extra virgin olive oil and possesses many ancient farmhouses renovated for hospitality. You can rent apartments or large villas with swimming pool, immersed in beautiful countryside and quiet. When you stay in one of the Mansalto and Montemaggiore houses you can easily understand how these places are part of a different Tuscany.
A stroll through the dirt roads on the property (which covers 2000 hectares) reveals some real corners of paradise, as the small village of Rapale, with its castle and its stone houses. Being away from the tourist jam does not mean having to give up comfort and convenience. Mansalto and Montemaggiore infact studied a hospitality formula practically tailor-made for each one, and you'll discover that you can do many things besides walking, relaxing and swimming. Food lovers can request a chef at home for a barbecue on the lawn or for a candlelit dinner. If you like to cook you can take cooking class to learn about traditional recipes and local products. Finally, those who love the “do it yourself” can request grocery shopping and then cook the products as they prefer (www.montemaggioretuscany.it).
In short, your next trip to Tuscany could really be "different", without giving up visits to Florence, Siena and Arezzo, which are not far from Monte San Savino and its beautiful countryside. I am Tuscan and I've always lived in Florence, and I can assure you that these places I have left in the heart.