There are some high-quality food products in Tuscany that distinguish themselves from their competitors by having earned an EU designation of quality label: PDO Protected Designation of Origin (DOP in Italian) and PGI Protected Geographical Indication (IGP in Italian). Both certificates guarantee the customer that they are purchasing food with certain origins and certain characteristics. They also represent a guarantee for the producers themselves, safeguarding them against potential imitators:
DOP or PDO (Protected Designation of Origin): this is a designation given to agricultural products or foodstuffs whose production, preparation and processing all occur in a given geographical area and whose quality or other characteristics are essentially linked to this area and to their producers. IGP or PGI (Protected Geographical indication), meanwhile, is a designation applied to agricultural products or foodstuffs whose production, preparation or processing occur in a given geographical area and whose quality, reputation or other characteristics can be attributed to its geographic origin.
At the moment there are 31 food products in Tuscany marked with the European labels IGP and DOP.
Find out here the full list:
Monte Amiata chestnut – Castagna del Monte Amiata IGP (Monte Amiata): a sweet, dry, delicate chestnut from the volcanic soils of the Amiata. Either boiled or roasted, they go perfectly with sweet muscat wines, and can also be dried and ground for flour to make castagnaccio and chestnut polenta.
Garfagnana chestnut flour – Farina di neccio della Garfagnana DOP (Garfagnana - Lucca): the cultivation of chestnuts trees for their nuts dates back to around 1000 CE. Indeed, the chestnut tree is known locally as the ‘bread tree’, as the chestnuts yield flour, which goes into all sorts of sweet and savoury morsels.
Lunigiana chestnut flour – Farina di castagna della Lunigiana DOP (Lunigiana - Massa Carrara): the chestnut flour from Lunigiana has a very fine texture and an ivory colour. Traditional products made in Lunigiana from chestnut flour are bread (marocca), frittelle and the typical "lasagne bastarde".
Mugello chestnut - Marrone del Mugello IGP (Mugello - Firenze): this denomination is reserved for sweet chestnuts from the Mugello, either dried or ground into flour. The IGP Mugello sweet chestnut is markedly sweet, easy to peel, not excessively floury and perfect for a delicious marron glacé. It contains slight hints of vanilla and a redolence of hazelnuts or fresh bread.
Caprese Michelangelo chestnut – Marrone di Caprese Michelangelo DOP (Caprese Michelangelo - Arezzo): fresh or dried, you can recognize this traditional ‘marrone’ (sweet chestnut) by its elliptical shape, unique scent and sweet taste. Precisely because of its characteristics, it is excellent when glazed or boiled with fennel.
San Gimignano saffron – Zafferano di San Gimignano DOP (San Gimignano - Siena): the saffron of San Gimignano is extremely pure, being grown with organic methods and picked by hand, flower by flower. Fun fact: it takes 150.000 flowers to get 1kg of saffron.
Siena Ricciarelli – Ricciarelli di Siena IGP: ricciarelli are soft, extremely sweet pastries based on almonds and shaped like rounded lozenges. They almost resemble little boats, with a covering of icing sugar.
Siena Panforte – Panforte di Siena IGP: panforte is a traditional Christmas fruitcake, fairly flat and compact. It is typically made with honey, walnuts, almonds, spices and candied fruit, and is either covered with aromatic spices or icing sugar, as is the case with the "Margherita" version, named after Queen Margherita.
Tuscan cantucci - Cantucci Toscani IGP: cantucci, or cantuccini, are oblong-shaped biscuits, very popular in Tuscany. They are made with with flour, eggs, butter, sugar, honey and natural sweet almonds, and are traditionally served as dessert with a glass of Vinsanto.
Pecorino Romano cheese DOP (Grosseto area): this is a hard cheese, made out of sheep milk exclusively from farms in the areas of production (Lazio, Sardinia and the area of Grosseto in Tuscany).
Pecorino Toscano cheese DOP (throughout the region): this is the flagship of the Tuscan cheesemaking tradition. Its unique, delicate flavour tells an ancient story, one that started in the age of the Etruscans and is still being told today. As well as Tuscany, it is also produced in a handful of bordering municipalities, 11 in Umbria and 2 in Lazio.
Pecorino delle Balze Volterrane cheese (Volterra and surroundings): Pecorino delle Balze Volterrane is a very special cheese made with raw sheep's milk and vegetable rennet from cardoon flowers. It can be fresh, half-matured or matured, and is produced solely in Volterra and surroundings (Pomarance, Montecatini Val di Cecina, Castelnuovo Val di Cecina, Monteverdi).
Finocchiona IGP (throughout the region): this soft, scented salami is made with top quality meat cuts and seasoned with wild fennel seeds or fennel flowers and pepper. Its origins date back to the Middle Ages, when wild fennel seeds were used as a cheap alternative to pepper, which was more expensive. It is said that Machiavelli was particularly fond of Finocchiona.
Mortadella Bologna IGP (throughout the region): this is the classic Italian mortadella pork sausage, pink in colour, strong in smell, with a touch of spiciness. It is produced in Emilia Romagna, Piemonte, Veneto, Tuscany, Trento, Marche, Lazio and Lombardy.
Mortadella di Prato IGP: this mortadella is produced in the area around Prato. It is noted for its spiciness and the addition of an ancient alcohol: alchermes, which are normally used only in sweets, such as the so-called "Prato peaches". Prato Mortadella goes very well with aperitifs or in traditonal recipes like sedano alla pratese (Prato celery).
Prosciutto Toscano DOP (throughout the region): Prosciutto Toscano is made only with fresh meat of the highest quality from six regions of central and northern Italy, including Tuscany. After a long seasoning, Tuscan prosciutto emerges with a delicate flavour, an optimum sapidity and rich aromas.
Colonnata lard – Lardo di Colonnata IGP (Colonnata, Massa Carrara): this highly prized and fragrant product is made from pork lard, which is cured in marble basins in Carrara, before the layers of lard are alternated with salt, pepper, sage and rosemary. What originated as a meal for marble quarrymen has become a delicacy known throughout the globe.
Small Italian salamis alla cacciatora (hunter-style) - Salamini italiani alla cacciatora DOP (throughout the region): Different types of small salamis are produced all over Tuscany and throughout central and northern Italy. They are known as cacciatori or cacciatorini and are usually dry, compact and ruby red in colour.
Toscano IGP Extra virgin olive oil (throughout the region): Tuscan extra virgin olive oil is produced wholly and solely within the region of Tuscany Region, from the cultivation of the olives to the extraction of the oil and the packaging. But in order to win the IGP certificate, it has to have the particular physical, chemical and sensory qualities that lie behind its unmistakable flavour and quality.
Chianti Classico DOP Extra virgin olive oil (Chianti area): the production area of this oil is the same as that delimited for Chianti Classico wine. Its colour can vary from a deep green to a greenish-gold, while fruity aromas belie have a slightly bitter, decisively pungent flavour.
Terre di Siena DOP Extra virgin olive oil (Siena area): different kinds of olives can be found in this oil: Frantoio, Correggiolo, Moraiolo e Leccino, which grow in the hills of Siena, save the Chianti Classico wine production area. Colour ranges from green to yellow, while the taste is lightly bitter and pungent.
Lucca DOP Extra virgin olive oil (Lucca area): this olive oil is produced in a well-defined geographical, covering the municipalities of the Lucchesia, Versilia and the Garfagnana. It has a fruity, essentially sweet taste, but with a few bitter, piquant notes.
Seggiano DOP Extra virgin olive oil (Monte Amiata): this oil is obtained exclusively from the olive groves on the slopes of Monte Amiata which have at least 85% of the Olivastra Seggianese cultivar. Its colour varies from green to gold, with notes of herbs and white fruits. A clean flavour confirms the aromas, while keeping a touch of bitterness and pungency in play.
Garfagnana spelt – Farro della Garfagnana IGP (Garfagnana area): the perfect, healthy option for all your summer salads and winter soups! Farro, or spelt, is a truly ancient grain. It was a favourite footstuff of the Romans, who used it to feed their legions.
Sorana bean IGP Sorana beans – Fagiolo di Sorana IGP (Sorana - Pistoia area): whether the pearly, small, thin-skinned "Piatellino" or the bigger, red "Antico Rosso", the Sorana bean is tasty and easy to digest. It is grown, using organic methods, in the hills of Pescia (Pistoia), where local farmers have passed down seeds and cultivation techniques from generation to generation.
Borgotaro mushrooms – Fungo Borgottaro IGP (Pontremoli - Massa Carrara area): Borgotaro mushrooms are grown in the area of Parma and, in Tuscany, at Pontremoli and Zeri.
Lunigiana Honey – Miele della Lunigiana DOP (Lunigiana area): the honey of the Lunigiana was the first in Italy to obtain DOP status from the European Union; it is also certified organic. The DOP classification for Lunigiana honey is reserved for two types: acacia honey and chestnut honey.
Tuscan bread - Pane Toscano DOP (throughout the region): the "type 0" Tuscan common wheat from which Tuscan bread is made maintains its wheat germ, which has now disappeared from common flours, during maceration. It rises naturally, without relying on additives. What makes the bread truly unique, though, is the complete absence of salt.
Cinta Senese (breed of pig from Siena) DOP (throughout the region): the fresh meat of the Cinta Senese comes from a breed of pig that is raised in Tuscany and feeds mostly on pasture; the breed is also characterized by a dark coat with a belt (cinta) of light hair that rings the middle of the body. The meat is exceptionally tasty, and also forms a staple of traditional Tuscan charcuterie.
White Central Apennine Steer - Vitellone Bianco dell’Appennino Centrale IGP (Grosseto, Siena, Arezzo, Firenze, Prato, Livorno, Pisa): the name Vitellone Bianco is used to refer to three breeds of cattle: Chianina, Marchigiana and Romagnola. These cattle are traditionally raised on small farms, often in the Apennine foothills of central Italy; they roam wild or semi-wild, which increases the quality of their meat.
Central Italian Lamb – Agnello del Centro Italia IGP (throughout the region): this is the fresh meat of lambs less than twelve months old, from any of the ovine species common to central Italy. The production area includes Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Marche, Umbria, Lazio and Abruzzo. After weaning, the lambs graze on pasture, and some farmers move them according to the seasons, having them winter on coastal plains and summer on Apennine meadows.