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A Culinary Tour of Tuscany

PINCI Osteria Le Potazzine

We wander Montalcino's winding cobblestoned streets, and after a stop at the medieval fortress, we come upon the family-owned Osteria Le Potazzine. Manni quickly secures the last available outdoor table (that Italian charm) and we order a gran piatto di affettati tipici del territorio (a platter of cured meats) from Carlo Pieri, an area salumaio. The sausages are spicy, well balanced, and flavorful. Next up, Manni suggests a local specialty: pinci fatii a mano, pasta rolled by hand to resemble thick spaghetti. The pinci arrive perfectly al dente, in a fresh pomodoro sauce redolent of basil. I can't say for sure that this is the best plate of pasta I've ever eaten, but having it in a square, with church bells tolling in the distance, makes it a contender. 10 Piazza Garibaldi, Montalcino; 39-0577/846-054; dinner for two $66.

SALUMI Antica Macelleria Falorni

Falorni is an institution: its salsicce and prosciutto have been made artisanally for eight generations. To walk into the salumeria is to walk into a world where all things porcine are prized. The intoxicating scent of pepper and smoked meat permeates the space; prosciutto with the tail still on hangs from the ceiling. A place of pride is reserved for products from the cinta senese, an indigenous wild black boar. The jovial, mustachioed co-owner, Stefano Falorni, can be found behind his fire engine–red Berkel slicer giving customers tastes of garlicky capocollo or paprika-tinged salame piccante. But the signature sausage of the macelleria is the finocchiona sbriciolona, a richly marbled salami spiced with wild fennel seeds. Accompanied by a bottle of Chianti, Falorni's velvety prosciutto Toscano is ideal for a picnic in the piazza. 71 Piazza G. Matteotti, Greve in Chianti; 39-055/853-029.

CHIANTI Il Molino di Grace

Manni drives with the abandon that only Italians can pull off, often overtaking cars on the hairpin turns. We are heading to Panzano to meet Frank Grace and his wife, Judy, who are living out the Tuscan dream: owning a winery in Chianti. Avid art collectors and travelers, they have shaken up the Italian wine establishment. In their sixth year of production, they received a prestigious Gambero Rosso award for best emerging winery. Il Molino's powerhouse is the 100 percent Sangiovese Super Tuscan, Gratius, the kind of wine you want to chew rather than sip. Save room for a bottle (or two) in your carry-on. Localita il Volano, Panzano; 39-055/856-1010.

STEAK Antica Macelleria Cecchini

It's not often that you run across a butcher who wears Prada shoes and spouts Dante and poetry while slicing meat in a book-lined space. Dario Cecchini's shop doubles as the town hall in Panzano. Sure, people come here to buy bistecca Panzanese, or Florentine beefsteak, but they mostly come to gossip and catch up on the town's happenings. Though his personality may not win you over (he admits to not liking American visitors because they don't buy enough), he is nonetheless the consummate host. Bowls filled with olives with sliced oranges and free glasses of Chianti greet customers. 11 Via XX Luglio, Panzano; 39-055/852-020.

Manni olive oil is available exclusively at www.manni.biz.

NILOUFAR MOTAMED is a senior editor at T+L and a host of the Travel Channel show Travel Spies.


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