This study aimed to identify dietary patterns using reduced rank regression (RRR) and to explore their associations with depressive symptoms over 9 years in the Invecchiare in Chianti study. At baseline, 1362 participants (55·4 % women) aged 18–102 years (mean age 68 (sd 15·5) years) were included in the study. Baseline data collection started in 1998 and was repeated after 3, 6 and 9 years. Dietary intake information was obtained using a country-specific, validated FFQ with 188 food items. For baseline diet, dietary pattern scores in quartiles (Q) were derived using RRR with the nutrients EPA+DHA, folate, Mg and Zn as response variables. Continuous depression scores from the Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) scale were used for assessing depressive symptoms. The derived dietary pattern was rich in vegetables, olive oil, grains, fruit, fish and moderate in wine and red and processed meat, and was labelled as ‘typical Tuscan dietary pattern’. After full adjustment, an inverse association was observed between this dietary pattern and depressive symptoms at baseline (Q1 v. Q4, B −2·77; 95 % CI −4·55, −0·98). When examining the relationship between the above-mentioned dietary pattern at baseline and depressive symptoms over 9 years, a similar association was found after full adjustment for confounding factors (Q1 v. Q4, B −1·78; 95 % CI −3·17, −0·38). A diet rich in vegetables, olive oil, grains, fruits, fish and moderate in wine and red and processed meat was consistently associated with lower CES-D scores over a 9-year period in the Tuscan population.