BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANTS in TUSCANY: IL BUCANIERE, San Vincenzo

Let's be honest. I never liked San Vincenzo. Okay, it has a long and sandy beach, but if you're looking for ugly town planning along the Tuscan coast - you've found a good example. It's a shame that places like Follonica, Marina di Grosseto or San Vincenzo have grown too fast and without any aesthetic standards during the second half of the last century. Luckily these towns managed to keep their lovely beaches, but what else do they have in store?


Right on the beach - San Vincenzo's restaurant il Bucaniere
Il Bucaniere: foodie and pirate meeting point on San Vincenzo beach 

In the case of San Vincenzo the reason I keep visiting is a restaurant. Or actually, two. Two restaurants linked to one family. When I moved to Tuscany in the late 90s I often heard the name Gambero Rosso, when asking for the region's (if not Italy's) best seafood restaurant. The restaurant in San Vincenzo's town center used to sport two Michelin stars and even though my olive picker wage didn't allow for it, I was lucky enough to eat there twice (by cleverly convincing Swiss friends to celebrate their round birthdays on the Tuscan coast). 

Forget San Vincenzo's unsightly architecture. Unassuming from the outside, Gambero Rosso had stylish interiors and a lovely view onto the town's small harbor. The atmosphere at the Michelin star restaurant got me time-traveling to a Caribbean island. Obviously, the divine Italian cuisine made sure I didn't lose hold on the Mediterranean

But things change. The Pierangelini family moved on to new gastronomic adventures, and for some years San Vincenzo's Palamita festival seemed to be the only reason to keep coming back. Luckily the saga doesn't stop here. I was overjoyed when reading this spring about the projects of Fulvietto Pierangelini. The son of the couple who had written gourmet history with the Gambero Rosso, had grown up in San Vincenzo and was about to open a new restaurant in town. Or rather, not just a restaurant, but a restaurant and bathing establishment in one. And obviously, right on the beach. 

San Vincenzo beach: Restaurant Il Bucaniere's outside lounge and eating
Alfresco lounge and eating at Il Bucaniere

When eating out along the Tuscan coast, it's often just about fish (understandably). Just that this poses a problem to people like my Tuscan native an me. He won't eat seafood (childhood trauma) and I hate meat (born like that). Il Bucaniere offers the solution for an issue that might otherwise ask for years of couple therapy. Being his father's son, Fulvietto Pierangelini is an expert when it comes to fish. Not just preparing it, but also getting any type of it out of the Mediterranean sea. And when it comes to meat, he isn't just a pro at cooking it. He also breeds some of Tuscany's finest Cinta Senese pigs on his farm near San Vincenzo. 


Cinta Senese Prosciutto at San Vincenzo's Restaurant Bucaniere
Podere Agave's Cinta Senese Prosciutto

Luckily Fulvietto doesn't just know about food and how to prepare it, but also has taste. Il Bucaniere was designed by Massimiliano Fuksas, one of the big names of contemporary architecture. We can only hope that ever more people in Italy start remembering that clean beaches and fine food and wine are best served in the context of great architecture. Who if not the Italians, would have known about this all along. 

Villa next to restaurant il Bucaniere in San Vincenzo on the Tuscan coast
Beach villa on the backside of restaurant Bucaniere:
one of a few stately old buildings left in town. 

RESTAURANT IL BUCANIERE, Lungomare Marconi, San Vincenzo. Reservation recommended. Phone: +39 335 800 1695 or via email on their website. 

If you want to stay the night, try Hotel Villa Tramonto. Right on the beach you can wear your bathing suit whilst descending the few steps from hotel room to your sunbed. And talking architecture: the beach hotel has been totally rebuilt a few years ago. Thank god with the help of a talented architect. 

Il Bucaniere may be closed during low season (end of October to March). So ring first or try restaurant Zanzibar on San Vincenzo's harbor as an alternative. 

And more news from San Vincenzo's restaurant scene: Emanuela, Fulvietto's mom, has decided to reopen the doors of il Gambero Rosso. I haven't been back yet (anybody's round birthday coming up?), but have read only good things so far. With two great restaurants in one small town, you may want to stay more than one night. 


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