DA CAINO IN MONTEMERANO: A MICHELIN STAR DINNER IN SOUTHERN TUSCANY

Whenever my brother and my sister-in-law visit with us, they go for a special treat, which normally consists of a ludicrously expensive fine dining experience in one of Tuscany's best restaurants. They say they do this wherever they go. I suspect they do it only in Tuscany - a sort of premium for having gotten through a holiday in the company of our over-excited children.

By now I've learnt to take advantage of their foodie passion (or utter desperation) and send them every year on a new tasting mission to one of Tuscany's Michelin or Gault Millau temples. This summer I recommended Da Caino, one out of four restaurants in Tuscany, which have been honored with two Michelin stars. 

A curvy drive from the southern Tuscan coast, Da Caino lies in Montemerano, a quiet hilltop town near the ancient Saturnia thermal baths. Once a simple wine shop which also offered small bites to eat, the Michelin stars and fine dine critiques have been quick to arrive since Valeria Piccini took over the hearth from her mother-in-law. A true local, Valeria is the Tuscan version of your passionate Italian mamma gone gourmet cook. 



Da Caino in Montemerano


My brother and his partner ate their way through Da Caino's divine tasting menu and were especially impressed with Valeria's thinner-than-a-piece-of-paper thyme ravioli and the amazing deserts. The menu changes from season to season (have a look at the current one here), and always proposes innovative and surprising creations based on Tuscany's prime ingredients. 

The bill? Around 400 € for the two of them, including the six course tasting menu, an aperitif and - remember the curvy drive - only half a bottle of Morellino di Scansano wine from Fattoria Le Pupille. 

When I've asked my closest of kin whether it had been worth it, they said they'd be ready to trade in a week of holiday for a meal like this (I'm not clear yet whether they meant any week or just a week with us). Together with another Michelin starred experience in Alba - Piedmont's caput mundi for Italian gourmet food - the dinner at Da Caino has been my Swiss expert tasters' best meal in the whole of Italy so far.


DA CAINO - MONTEMERANO, VIA DELLA CHIESA,
Book in advance: info@dacaino.it; phone +39 0564 602817.
Da Caino also offers guest rooms for people who'd rather not mess up such a heavenly meal with the curvy drive back to the coast.


WHAT TO DO AROUND MONTEMERANO

  • Take a dip in Saturnia's famous rock pools or hang out at the nearby spa and golf resort.
  • Wine and olive oil tasting: visit Fattoria La Maliosa, producer of organic and biodynamic extra virgin olive oil and red wine (always with an eye for the area's native grape varieties), and home of my favorite Tuscan white wine.
  • Drive on to Pitgliano for spectacular views, Etruscan and Jewish heritage, people watching and more wine tasting. 
  • Still some time left in the area? Check my Southern Tuscany map for more sightseeing tips in the southernmost tip of Tuscany. 




You'd be ready to pay 400 Euro for a kids-free evening after a week of this
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