Close your eyes and imagine Tuscany. Vines laden with grapes bake under a pleasantly hot sun; the smell of hay and grass drift by on the breeze, and you’re comfortably full after a long, multi-course meal of simple but exquisite Italian dishes. Sounds idyllic, right? That’s what Anthony Bourdain was going for when he decided to visit Tuscany – but as usual, the final product looks a bit different than he imagined.
Bourdain visited Tuscany twice, in 2007 while filming his show No Reservations, and again in 2018 for an unaired episode of Parts Unknown. Tuscany already had a renowned reputation as one of the best destinations in Italy – if not the world. He contrasted it later when visiting Emilia-Romagna, a neighboring region that has often been described as “Tuscany without the crowds.” But if you need to experience Tuscany and the bounty it has to offer, you’re not alone.
If you’ve watched the episode of Anthony Bourdain in Tuscany, or are planning a trip of your own and want to know if you can visit any of the places he ate, you’ve come to the right place. Hopefully, your trip will be a bit more heaven-like than the levels of hell Tony experienced at times (him being dramatic, not me), but in any case, you’ll definitely eat well!
Note: I get a lot of questions about where Bourdain ate in Florence, Italy. Based on some research and suggestions from Bourdain fans, I put together a guide to the places we know Tony ate in Florence and where we think he would have loved. You can read that post here.
Synopsis of No Reservations in Tuscany
A strange conglomeration of film styles and director visions, the Tuscany episode of No Reservations is a bit eclectic. Teaming up with Vincenzo Tripodo, Tuscany ends up transforming from Bourdain’s imagined vision of paradise on earth to something a bit more “Paradise Lost” – or should I say the Inferno, written by Tuscany’s own Dante in the 14th century.
Starting and ending at a private villa in the Chianti area of Tuscany, Bourdain enjoys several home-cooked meals – two by him, one by a local family in Marina di Pisa on the coast, as well as more dining experiences out and about while exploring the region. He also tries his hand at pasta-making, playing an Italian cowboy, sheep herding, and starring in a black-and-white Italian drama.
To say there’s a lot going on in this episode is an understatement; even Bourdain can’t quite slow his frenetic style in Italy’s laid-back Tuscan region.
Where Anthony Bourdain Drank & Ate in Tuscany
Anthony Bourdain eats at five local establishments while traveling around Tuscany. Here they are, as well as a breakdown of the foods he tried at each one and two of the home meals he enjoyed.
1. Fattoria Casaloste
Not strictly a food stop, Fattoria Casaloste is known for their Chianti, and is one of several wine producers in the area where Bourdain and his crew are staying. Casaloste is the first stop they make after leaving the villa to start filming. In addition to sampling the wine (naturally!), Tony stocks up on several bottles for the meals he plans to prepare for the crew.
2. Fattoria Corzano e Paterno
At Fattoria Corzano e Paterno, Tony does a cheese tasting and spends time out in the fields interacting with the farmers and cheese-makers directly. He stocks up on delicious sheep’s milk cheese, which he uses later as part of his “final meal scene” in attempting to impress the Italian members of his crew at their rental villa.
At a roadside “truck stop” restaurant, Bourdain sits with Casella to enjoy a good meal after a disappointing morning filming on a Butera, a “working” cattle ranch. The two eat through a multi-course meal, focused primarily on wild boar – a local specialty. The dishes they eat include pappardelle with wild boar ragu and slow-cooked wild boar with olives in wine.
I couldn’t find this restaurant in Google, but I checked the spelling several times to make sure I got the name right; you may need to ask some locals in Lorena (the subregion in Tuscany) if you want to seek it out.
Loving this post so far? Join me for even more in the “Eat Like Anthony Bourdain” Facebook Community!
Traveling to Colonnata in the Apuan Alps seems like a detour on Tony’s exploration of Tuscany, but he has one specific objective in visiting this mountain town: lard. Smooth, buttery lard.
At Lardarium, Bourdain samples – and then stocks up on – pork fat that’s been curing in salt and rosemary. Even my mouth was watering despite a slight aversion to the idea of eating straight animal fat.
5. Antica Macelleria Cecchini
Arguably one of the most famous butcher shops in Italy – if not the world, thanks to Bourdain’s visit – Antica Macelleria Cecchini is the place for fresh-cut meat in Tuscany. Also called the “Museum of Tuscan Cooking,” this renowned shop is located in the town of Panzano. Tony and Cesare stop in for lunch – and to buy more ingredients for the Italian villa dinner they are planning.
They enjoy crostinis with lardo (a popular course in Tuscany), Finocchiona (a Tuscan type of salami), fresh pork chops with wild fennel flower pollen, porchetta, and – of course – lots of local red wine.
Lastly, I’d be remiss to skip over the home-cooked meals he enjoyed, especially for those lovers of Italian food who watched this episode:
- For his first villa meal, Bourdain prepares spaghetti carbonara, eggplant caponata, and a squash salad.
- In Marina di Pisa, Tony and his friend Nico enjoys a meal of seafood penne; anchovies with onions, salt, pepper, and olive oil; braised pigeon; and local wine.
- Finally, the show ends with a second meal at the villa, which Bourdain and Casella prepare. It includes farro salad; cannellini beans; fresh made pasta with lardo, zucchini flowerrs, and black truffle; with Chianti, testa (head cheese), and seared tuscan tartar.
Tuscany Food Tours You Might Enjoy
Obviously, these tours are the tip of the iceberg in terms of how incredible the dining scene is in Tuscany; you can certainly find many more delicious food tours to enjoy!
Have other questions about what happened to Anthony Bourdain in Tuscany? Comment below!