Are you vegetarian? Walking the streets of Tuscany with friends and guests who love food and wine is, of course, a very enjoyable experience and an easy one to organize. Surely there is no shortage of places to choose from in this beautiful region.
However, not being vegetarian myself, I have to think a bit more when it comes to choosing restaurants for people who do not eat meat and dairy products.
To follow a vegetarian diet is a quite simple thing to do when in Tuscany. A big part of the traditional Tuscan cuisine is based on pulses and vegetables and it is possible to easily create dishes without meat. Moreover, the fresh fruit and veg available at the local shops and markets surely helps a lot!
Vegetarian Restaurants in Tuscany
But, to find a diverse vegetarian or vegan choice in a restaurant menu is another story. So, walking the streets of Volterra with a vegan friend, it was refreshing to find, in the heart of the town, the lovely Life Bistrot , recenty opened by Enrico and the beautiful Alessandra, born and bred in Volterra .
The place itself is amazing and worth visiting as it is a historical building with a breathtaking glass floor with views over the Etruscan well and archeological excavations underneath. Located in the old part of the city of Volterra, Via Porta all’Arco, a few meters away from the famous Piazza dei Priori, the restaurant itself is a small “museum”. Important archaeological pieces were found during the renovation works. A long excavation campaign followed by the installation of the large glass floor allows today’s guests to walk and eat “suspended” above ancient findings, dating back to the Etruscan Civilization. In the “archeological room” I fet like I was sitting over centuries of History and a bit puzzled by the view under my feet!
In summer there is also an open terrace facing a secondary road which is therefore very quiet and relaxing.
Alessandra explains us that we can choose between a menu à la carte or a buffet where we can pick what we prefer, free to go back for more, and pay at the end.
We are given a magnetic card that we swipe at the cashier every time we take some food from the buffet, the card registers the weight and the final bill to be paid at the end .This too is is new and very cool !
Albergo Diffuso: a new hospitality model
Enrico ‘s Life Bistrot also promotes a new concept of Tourism as it’s part of the “Albergo Diffuso” hospitality model. According to it, houses and apartments are available to rent and people can choose according to their budget. The Albergo Diffuso system, while offering a wide choice of accommodations, also provides quality hotel services and experiences in the area. I tried the concept in Pisa where I booked a room in an appartment for a business trip and in, the Bar accross the street, they provided me with the most lovely breakfast ever as part of the reservation plus they organized for me transportation.
Alessandra directly manages most of the apartments which are part of the Albergo Diffuso network in Volterra and are all located within the city centre. Their properties also include some historical buildings and luxury accommodation.
It is an innovative concept that in Tuscany is just beginning. So the vegetarian Life Bistrot is a bit like a pilot experiment, the ice breaker of the project.
I must say I really like the idea and I am happy to support it.
For the restaurant, thumbs up to the chef, Alessandro Mordini, who is able to mix together his travels and culinary experiences. The cake I tried, a soft spongy creamy slice of cocco, cocoa and curcuma made me think of exotic places …
From now on when thinking “vegetarian” I have changed my attitude. No more boring plain food comes to my mind , I rather think of healthy, tasty and adventurous flavours. Important to know : they also provide Gluten Free options.