There is one delicious reason to visit this enchantingly sleepy, medieval hilltop town almost equidistant (50km) between Pisa and Florence: to eat, hunt and dream about the tuber magnatum pico (white truffle).
San Miniato town’s ancient cobbled streets, burnt soft copper and ginger in the hot summer sun, are a delight to meander. Savour a harmonious melody of magnificent palace facades, 14th- to 18th-century churches and an impressive Romanesque cathedral, ending with the stiff hike up San Miniato’s reconstructed medieval fortress tower, Torre di Frederico II, to enjoy a great panorama. Before setting off buy a combined ticket to all the key sites (€5) at the tourist office.
Then knuckle down to the serious business of lunch. Many local restaurants buy their meat from Sergio Falaschi, the local macelleria (butcher) specialising in products made from cinta senese (indigenous Tuscan pig from the area around Siena), including the Slow Food favourite, mallegato (blood sausage). Other local products worth looking for on menus are carciofo San Miniatese (locally grown artichokes) in April and May; chestnuts and wild mushrooms in autumn (fall); formaggio di capra delle colline di San Miniato (the local goat’s cheese); and locally raised Chianina beef.
Don’t leave town without nipping into Slow Food to ask about tastings, tours, cellar visits, wine itineraries and other great tastebud-tempting activities. It also organises the fabulous Mercato della Terra di San Miniato, a vibrant farmers’ market humming with fresh fruit, veg, meat, raw milk and other local produce from small-scale farmers and artisan producers. It’s held on the third Sunday of the month.