Foiano della Chiana is a small village in the province of Arezzo. It is home to a few thousand inhabitants
I have never visited the historic centre of Foiano della Chiana, but I do know that they have the best meat restaurant in town!
Fierli is an organic farm. They keep 200 Chianina calfs and 300 Cinta Senese pigs. The animals have 100 ha agriculture land for grazing.
A few years ago I visited the farm. The agriculture land is really impressive and nice to see.
Nicola, Cecilia, Francesco, Atos and Eros Fierli are all responsible for running the farm and the restaurant. It is a good place to eat and popular with locals who come to enjoy the bistecca and other high quality meat dishes.
The farm and restaurant are located in the centre, not far from the Valdichiana Outlet in Foiano della Chiana.
The restaurant is open seven days a week for lunch.Only indoor dining is offered. Dinner is saved only for special occasions or a private dining event.
The shop is open at 9 am every day. I often buy meat at the Fierli’s butcher shop for new local recipes with wine I sell in my webshop.
The Cinta Senese pigs and the Chianina veals are merely slaughtered only by competent personnel at specialized established slaughterhouses.
Son Nicola and daughter Cecilia are committed to serving you amazing food. The restaurant offers dishes that showcase fresh local produce from their own farm.
The restaurant’s wine list consists of a small selection of local Tuscan wines. Cecilia is a certified FISAR sommelier and she loves to guide you through the range of wines and advice you on the perfect food pairing.
Cecilia is a good friend of mine, I have known her since our FISAR wine study in Italy.
Bistecca Chianina IGP
Chianina meat is protected by the IGP mark (Protected Geographical Indication). This means quality guaranteed.
IGP is linked to the place of origin where it is being produced, processed and prepared. The average weight of one bistecca is 1 kg and meant to serve 2-3 people.
Chianina is one of the finest meat. It is the oldest breed of cattle raised in Italy. Chianina is also called the “gigante bianco”, the white giant because of the size and the color.
Its territory of origin is the Val di Chiana in the province of Siena. You can find the Chianina breed in central Italy.
In ancient times the Chianina was used only for work, but since the ’30 in Bettole (Valdichiana) the breed is raised for meat production. The Chianina veal is not made for fast growing and slaughtering.
Chianina is the largest and oldest breed in the world. The meats are extremely delicious and healthy!
Cinta Senese DOP
The indigenous Cinta Senese pig is native to the Tuscan region and in particular nearby Siena. The breed is medium sized, with black skin and a white belt. They have been raised for centuries.
The pigs live in maximum freedom throughout diverse forests. The Cinta Senese pigs can eat whatever they want.
The meat has a DOP classification, which means local products of high quality. It has a unique and surprising flavour.
The main cured meats produced with the Cinta Senese breed are dry-cured ham, capocollo, finocchiona, salami, pancetta and so on.
Chianina and Cinta Senese Experience
Fierli organizes a Chianina and Cinta Senese Experience 2-3 times a week. Enjoy the possibility of high quality, organic, wholesome and KM zero food.
The chef prepares the best meat dishes for your lunch. It is an amazing experience when you’re on holiday in Italy. Also nice for children.
A visit to the local market is a very characteristic experience in Montepulciano.
It is a typical Italian market with fresh fish, salumi, prosciutto, olives, different types of pecorino cheeses, cod, mozzarella di bufala, roast chicken as well as kitchen utensils, clothes and shoes.
There is always something for everyone!
The weekly market is from 8 am till 1 pm. Address: Piazza Pietro Nenni in Montepulciano.
Two market stalls every Tuesday and Friday in Montepulciano
Every week on Tuesday and Friday morning is a small outdoor market in the “Via Marino Cappelli” in front of the BCC Bank. The two market stalls sell fresh fruit, vegetables and fish.
The fish market vendor offer a wide range of fresh fish and seafood: salmon, tune, calamari, squid, cuttlefish and prawns for instance. In addition to the fresh fish you’ll find all kinds of fried fish and fried vegetables such as “fiori di zucca”. Fiori di zucca are blossoms stuffed with ricotta cheese. It’s really worth a try!
This small market is mostly frequented by locals.
Why going to the market?
I love to buy local produce at the market. I like knowing where the food I eat comes from and supporting local farmers. It is good for the environment and it benefits the local economy.
The food is super fresh compared to the grocery store foods. The market stalls showcase their locally fresh (seasonal) fruits and vegetables. The vendors are more than friendly and they will always choose the best pieces of fruit and vegetables for you.
Every week I go the market in Montepulciano. I often do my shopping at my favorite market stalls. Barra Francesco from Foiano della Chiana (AR) is the best stallholder to buy fresh mozzarella and burrata.
They have a small market stall, not only for cheese, but they sell also other delicacies from Southern Italy. It is a real family owned businesses where mother, father and son are all involved.
Mozzarella di bufala is a traditionally soft cheese produced in the region Campania. Mozzarella is a ball of fresh cheese and has a better texture, richness and overall flavor than the mozzarella cheese from a grocery store.
The family Barra also sells delicious olives, anchovies, taralli (typical snack from Puglia), taralli napoletani, different kinds of cheeses and dried tasty sausages.
Tuscany is rich in traditional, mainly pork based, dishes. For instance “porchetta”. This is a roasted pork with fennel, bay leaves and pepper. It is a real specialty from Umbria and Southern Tuscany.
Many locals eat a porchetta sandwich for lunch.
Furthermore the bistecca Fiorentina is a famous meat dish in central Italy.
Every day I try to cook fresh. I do not always have the time for that, but I find it important to eat fresh and healthy. The dishes I prepare are mostly seasonal.
Autumn is coming and at the moment you can find a big offer of funghi porcini at the market. So what do we eat tonight? Pappardelle ai funghi porcini!
The region Tuscany is a land of cyclists, it offers a variety of itineraries. Biking is one of the best ways to explore more of this wonderful wine region!
Montepulciano is a scenic hilltop town. It stands on a limestone hill. This area is the right place for road and dirt road cycling routes, but good fitness is required.
The best period for cycling Tuscany on bike are from March to October. Riding in the summer can be hot, but you can bike early in the morning, avoiding the heat of the day. Many find it’s a great time to relax and plan their day.
If you are planning about cycling in Tuscany, the most important biking needs are a good bike (MTB or race), a helmet and a repair kit. Cycling with a helmet is really recommended!
Sylvia by bike
Bike itineraries to Pienza
There are amazing bike routes from Montepulciano to Pienza. The trail types are mostly asphalt and dirt roads. You ride along the hills overlooking the amazing views of Val d’Orcia.
Most of the trails are suitable for advanced – experienced riders. They are quite challenging but definitely worth it!
1) Mountain bike route Montepulciano – Pienza
This is a gravel road and a road itinerary. Ideal for MTB, not for tour or racing bikes. You’ll bike through hills, valleys, olive groves and vineyards. This is a spectaculair itinerary for experienced mountainbikers.
Distance 27 km.
2) Road cycling route Montepulciano – Pienza
Explore this amazing cycle route to Pienza! The start and arrival point is Montepulciano. From here you start the bike tour among the hills of the Val di Chiana valley. Passing Montichiello you’ll see the very best of the iconic Val d’Orcia valley.
Panoramic roads lead you the Renaissance village Pienza. Once you’ve passed Pienza you take the road back to Montepulciano.
Distance 38 km.
3) Road cycling route Montepulciano – Acquaviva – Montepulciano Stazione
This itinerary is almost my daily bike exercise. It is a short ride from the historic centre of Montepulciano to Acquaviva, Valiano and Montepulciano Stazione.
Montepulciano, Acquaviva and Valiano are hilly villages. The biking route around Montepulciano Stazione is primarily flat.
After leaving Montepulciano this road passes the villages of Acquaviva and Valiano. Once you reach Valiano you turn back the way up to Montepulciano Stazione and Montepulciano.
In the countryside of Montepulciano you can see the hospital of Nottola.
It is a nice panoramic ride, it has not many up and downs. Starting in Montepulciano you follow the signs direction Chianciano and Chiusi.
Chiusi is the former Etruscan city in the province of Siena.
Along the road to Chiusi you pass my favorite pizza restaurant “Jamaica”. Jamaica is close to the discotheque La Bussola In. The pizza’s at Jamaica are huge and delicious!
Turning left you take the downhill road to Montallese. When arriving in Montallese turn right and you take the dirt road – cycle path to Lago di Montepulciano (Lake Montepulciano). This path is also called “Il sentiero della Bonifica.”
Sentiero della Bonifica
From there you follow the dirt road to Valiano, Montepulciano Stazione and then the road back to Montepulciano. Cycling uphill to Montepulciano is not easy. The road is not very steep but it is long. For this track you need a reasonable fitness.
Brasato means braised beef. The best part about the recipe “Brasato al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano” is that it is an easy and slow cooker recipe.
This meat dish is delicious on a cold winter evening. Springtime is not really the season for a beef stew. But when it’s cold and rainy outside it is the perfect food to warm you up a bit!
There are many recipes of braised beef, but when preparing an outstanding brasato it is important to have high quality meat and good wine.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG
What kind of wine would you recommend to use in beef stew?
I prefer a full bodied, robust red wine such as the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG.
This wine gives a very special aroma to the meat.
For this delicious recipe I use the perfect Chianina beef. This meat is expensive, but it is a very healthy meat and low in cholesterol.
Chianina is probably the oldest breed of cattle in Italy. Did you know that? This animal is also called the giant white cow “gigante bianco”.
Chianina farm Fierli
The homeland of the white Chianina cow is the Valdichiana area. The Fierli family is a four generations farm in Foiano della Chiana. A small town located between Cortona and Montepulciano. Today the family keeps 200 Chianina cows on 100 hectares of agriculture land.
Cecilia is member of the family Fierli. She came up with the rich, warm stew recipe “il brasato al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano”. Guanciale di Chianina cheek in Vino Nobile wine.
The cheek is a hard working muscle that needs to be cooked very slow. It takes hours before the meat is tender, but it is worth waiting for!
Besides guanciale di Chianina and Vino Nobile wine other necessary ingredients for this dish are olive oil, soffritto, salt and pepper.
A soffritto is the Italian cooking base for sauces, soups, stews and many more. It is an aromatic mix of onion, carrots and celery.
Besides the basic ingredients I add bay leaves, juniper berries, cloves and fresh rosemary. Really recommended!
It’s important to bring the meat out of the fridge a few hours before cooking. The meat must come up to room temperature.
In this recipe the marination step is not necessary.
Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 3 hours at least Serves: 2 people
450 gram of bovine cheek (Chianina) > 1/2 liter of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine
2 tablespoons extra-vergin olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 stick celery finely chopped
1 carrot finely chopped
1 bay leaf
3 juniper berries
salt, pepper, fresh rosemary
What else do you need
How to cook
Don’t remove the fat before cooking, that gives the meat a unique flavor and texture.
Clean, wash and chop the onions, carrots and celery.
Heat the stew pot over medium-high heat. Brown the soffritto in hot olive oil. Stirring frequently. The soffritto should be cooked until dorata (golden brown).
Add the meat to the pan and season it with salt and pepper.
Pour in the wine and bring it to boil. Reduce the heat, add the bay leaves, rosemary, cloves and juniper berries.
Cover the pot and turn the meat occasionally.
Leave the meat at a low and slow temperature.
The wine will evaporate. Let the wine reduce a bit and add more wine or other liquids when necessary.
After a few hours, when the meat is tender, remove it to a carving board. Slice the meat. Before serving make sure you remove the woody herbs stems and any bay leaves.
Arrange the meat on a serving plate and pour the wine sauce on top.
What to serve with beef stew
Serve warm with mashed potatoes, polenta or roasted potatoes with rosemary.. my favorite contorno!
A delicious antipasto
Antipasto misto di Cinta Senese: coppa, capocollo and speck.
Cinta Senese is an ancient Tuscan black pig with a white belt. They live free and they have a long and good life. The cinta senese meat has a DOP classification. It is top quality meat.
The main course pairs with the high tannic red wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG.
Red wine and fatty or high-protein foods is a perfect wine and food pairing.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG wine is an outstanding wine in the Tuscany region, available on my wine webshop.
Watch this video recipe to see how to cook il Brasato al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano!
Pici is a local pasta specialty from the province of Siena. It is a thick hand rolled pasta made from flour and water. Pici Toscani are similar to fat spaghetti.
The local people from Montepulciano “i poliziani” eat pici quite often. Since I moved here, I only eat pici. This pasta is amazing. So delicious!
Normally I buy fresh pici in the supermarket. It is a 300 gram packet, just enough for two meals. They are fresh and can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Obviously dried pici are available as well in grocery stores, but I prefer the fresh homemade variety!
Le vongole veraci
I don’t live near the beach, but I eat fish regularly. Fish is one of my favorite dishes.
There are different types of clams. They live in the Mediterranean and Adriatic sea. On the Italian coast you find a wide range of good restaurants where they serve the best fish and fresh seafood.
In Italy we eat plenty of fish. I personally always prefer the clams “vongole veraci” for my pasta. This shellfish is bigger and they give an essential “sea” taste to the primo piatto.
A primo piatto can be a risotto or a pasta dish.
Pici alle vongole is my personal recipe. I enjoy to experiment with different flavors and herbs. For the best pasta recipes I often ask locals, or I check out various recipe websites. Mostly I use the website of Giallo Zafferano.
I always put emotion and love in a dish, cooking is one of my greatest hobby. Besides wine tasting and running of course.
There are rules about Italian food that Italian follow and I respect that. Also the wine is important because the meal I prepare must pair with the wine I choose. It’s important to have a balance between the food and the wine.
I pici alle vongole
Recipe for 1 persoon
1 clove garlic Remove the skin, place the flat side of the knife over it and press down.
1 fresh red chilly Chop the chilly into small pieces. How many chilly pieces you want to use for your pasta depends on how spicy you prefer to eat.
150 gram pasta i pici
100 ml white wine Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC
300 gram vongole veraci Normally 250 gram is enough, but if you love vongole, the more the better.
half a bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley chop the parsley
extra vergine olive oil two table spoons of olio Italiano
Bring the water to boil in a pot.
Scrub the clams clean. They are unlikely to have sand in them. But to be sure that they are all clean and healthy I recommend to clean them.
Put two table spoons of olive oil into the hot saucepan. Add the garlic and some slices of chilly. Swirl a few seconds and make sure that the garlic doesn’t get too brown.
Pour in the white wine and bring it to boil. Then add the clams and increase heat to high. Cover and cook the clams until they are open. This will take at least 6 minutes.
After the water for the pasta has started to boil I add some salt. Cook the pici al dente. The recommended cooking time on the pasta package is 10-12 minutes. I always prefer having the pasta al dente.
Meanwhile keep on stirring with a spatula. Add the pici to the pan with clams, cook over high heat, tossing constantly, until pasta is al dente and has soaked up some of the sauce.
Remove the garlic, add the parsley and some pasta water if the sauce seems dry.
Serve your pici alle vongole directly while its hot.
PS: to pour the wine in the pan before the vongole is a recommendation from a fish market vendor in Montepulciano.
Can I store the pici alle vongole in the refrigerator?
You can store the pici alle vongole for maximum one day in the refrigerator, but it’s not recommended. Le vongole should be eaten fresh and immediately with the pasta.