San Miniato: a food lover’s dream on the Via Francigena
On our third day of our Via Francigena tour for the “Toscana Ovunque Bella” project, we found ourselves in San Miniato right in time for their annual White Truffle market festival.
San Miniato is a small town in central Tuscany strategically located between Florence and Pisa. It’s placed on a hilltop, providing views of the surrounding valleys and cities. It’s one of those small towns that is too often skipped over by visitors due to its popular neighbors but deserves to be seen by the world due to its staggeringly picturesque streets and gastronomic history.
The town produces some of the most valuable truffles due to the rarity as well as the care taken when procuring the truffles. It’s a highly regulated process, and only the very best products that have passed rigorous examination are presented at the White Truffle market.
Of course, the white truffles are the star of the show with some special appearances from other gastronomic delights from the area, like cheeses and olive oil.
Wine is another hot seller at the festival with guests like the Pietro Beconcini Agricola. The winery is currently run by Leonardo and Eva, two people who have nothing but complete and utter pride in their work and the preservation of this winery’s history.
Leonardo is the fourth generation in his family to run the winery and is nothing short of exceedingly passionate about his work. At the festival, we had just a small taste of not only their wines but their fervor for a wine worthy of utter delight and esteem.
Just in time to catch the sunset, we made our way to the “Rocca Federiciana”, just one of the many small museums that San Miniato offers. The tower has been astronomically important to the town, giving San Miniato a defensive advantage since 1223 when it was completed. Although it was destroyed in World War Two, it was rebuilt again in the 1950s’ due to its immense significance to the town.
While listening to its history and taking in the blooming colors of the sunset before me, I found a feeling of intense contentment sweeping over me. Each minute the colors became a shade deeper and the contrast between reality and dreams became less apparent.
Upon the setting of the sun, we strolled through the stalls of the market, tasting cured meats and fresh olive oil harvested only days before. There were colorful pastes with hints of truffle folded in and cured meats hanging from above.
What caught my eye most was not necessarily what was being sold, but rather the way the vendors were selling their products. They exposed an intense affection for their gastronomic passions and their enticing products were a byproduct of that.
This was no different for Sergio Falaschi, a local butcher who runs the family business dating back to 1925. It was started by his grandfather, Guido, then passed down to his father and uncle, and finally to him where he has begun the process of involving his son, Andrea. The butchery is famous in the area for selling high-quality meats in a variety of different cuts that are usually underappreciated.
In the back of the butchery lies a small restaurant that ties in nicely with the butchery, selling their meat products in the way they deserve to be served. From beef tartar to prosciutto of the utmost quality, Sergio and his staff offer a way to taste history and culture like never experienced before.
Between the wine, truffles, and meat from Macelleria Falaschi, San Miniato is a food lover’s dream. The foods offer more than just vibrancy on the palate; each plate offers a different perspective of life in the small hillside town in the most pleasurable way possible. It is through their food, their history and traditions, and their perseverance that San Miniato proves that “Tuscany is Beautiful Everywhere”.