ricciarelli siena

What to eat in Siena

When planning a holiday in Siena, no matter how long it lasts, savouring the flavours that Tuscany has to offer is a must. Enjoying a meal in a typical restaurant in the city or the surrounding area allows you to sample typical dishes that showcase the local food and wine tradition: here is what to eat in Siena, and the dishes you can’t miss out on. 

What typical foods to try in Siena

Tuscany is known for its picturesque landscapes, history and art, but also for its cuisine. Siena, in particular, is famous for certain dishes that can be enjoyed in the area’s many taverns, along with a good glass of Chianti. Let’s explore the 10 essential foods to try in Siena. 

Liver crostini, a tasty appetiser

Liver crostini are one of the most famous antipasti of Tuscan cuisine, known and appreciated for their rich and tasty flavour. They are generally prepared using chicken or pork liver and are served on slices of unsalted, lightly toasted Tuscan bread.

Liver crostini are one of Siena’s traditional dishes, often prepared for holidays and celebrations. It is almost impossible to find a restaurant that does not offer them. After all, this is a historical and traditional dish, full of personality and strong flavours – perfect for pairing with an appetiser and a good glass of wine. 

Pappardelle with hare sauce for lovers of strong flavours 

Pappardelle with hare sauce is one of the most traditional and tasty first courses of Tuscan cuisine and in particular of the city of Siena. It is a true hymn to flavour and simplicity, prepared with a few skilfully balanced ingredients. 

The pasta used for this dish is pappardella, a type of long, wide pasta – similar to tagliatelle, but wider, thicker and more porous. In the trattorias of Siena, it is easy to find excellent hand-rolled pappardelle on the menu. They are ‘rougher’ to better accommodate the thick and succulent hare sauce. 

Ribollita – ideal for vegetarians 

Ribollita  is a traditional Tuscan soup made with vegetables, beans and stale bread. This dish originates from peasant culture, so much so that in ancient times it started out as a ‘poor man’s dish’, or a way to use up leftover bread and vegetables. Today, however, ribollita is a dish famous throughout Italy and the world for its rustic and delicious flavour.

The word ‘ribollita’ refers to the fact that this dish is prepared by letting the ingredients cook together for many hours: in this way, the flavours of the vegetables and beans are intensified, making the dish even tastier.

Wild boar stew, the taste of tradition 

If you are wondering which typical dish to to eat in Siena, stewed wild boar is definitely one to try: it is a hearty and tasty dish, ideal for cold and rainy days.

Wild boar is a highly prized meat, but it is also very tough and fibrous, which is why the preparation of this tasty dish requires a lot of time and specific knowledge. As you enjoy this dish, you will smell all of its aromas: bay leaves, rosemary, cloves, juniper and nutmeg. 

Ricciarelli biscuits, a dessert from afar 

Siena’s ricciarelli biscuits,  which are DOP certified (Protected Designation of Origin), are rhombus-shaped, soft and fragrant shortbread biscuits made with ground almonds, icing sugar and egg whites. 

 According to legend, ricciarelli were created by an Arab confectioner working at the court of King Charlemagne. When the confectioner moved to Siena, he brought with him the recipe for his famous biscuits. 

Panforte di Siena, a nutritious and tasty cake 

Siena’s panforte is a medieval dessert: this low cake with an intense and aromatic flavour is made with a mixture of dried fruit, spices and honey. Legend has it that panforte was born during a siege of the city of Siena, when the inhabitants, isolated within the walls, had to find a way to survive on dwindling food supplies. It was then that a group of women got together to prepare a cake with the ingredients they had on hand, including dried fruit, spices and honey. The result was a nutritious and intensely flavoured cake that soon became an institution in Sienese cuisine.

A pici dish suitable for the whole family

If you are looking for a dish to enjoy with your children in Siena, Pici will be a valuable ally during your holiday. Among the most famous sauces are those with garlic, white meat sauce, crumbs, wild boar ragout and, last but not least, those with tomatoes, perfect for children. 

Pici is a long, thick type of pasta, made with a few simple ingredients such as flour, water and salt. The texture of this pasta is rough and porous, making it perfect for all kinds of sauces.

Pici has become world famous thanks to the authentic flavour and unique texture of this pasta. 

An essential feature of the Sienese table every Sunday, you will find this pasta in all the traditional restaurants of the area. 

Sienese Pappa al pomodoro

Pappa al pomodoro is one of the typical dishes of Tuscan cuisine, especially in the Siena area. It is a simple but tasty dish prepared with stale bread, ripe tomatoes, garlic, basil and extra virgin olive oil. It originates in peasant cuisine, and was traditionally prepared using leftover bread and ingredients that were available. Today, pappa al pomodoro is a popular dish among tourists visiting the city of Siena, who want to savour the local culinary tradition. Its simplicity makes it a very versatile dish that can be enjoyed all year round.

Florentine steak, a must in local cuisine

The Florentine steak is an iconic dish of Tuscan cuisine. It is appreciated all over the world and is a must-try dish when visiting Siena. 

This dish is a culinary delicacy in its own right: it is a large steak, usually from breeds of cattle such as the Chianina, known for its high-quality meat. 

The preparation of a Florentine steak is simple: the dish relies on a high-quality ingredient that requires no excessive processing. However, to be sure you are eating a properly prepared Florentine steak, you must check that it is cut in a specific way: it must have a thickness of about 4-5cm and a weight of at least 1.2kg. 

The cooking of a Florentine steak is essential for its success. It is usually cooked on the grill, over glowing embers of oak or chestnut wood. The cooking process must be short, and any Florentine steak worth its salt will be served strictly ‘rare’.

I Comuni di Terre di Siena