Art, then & now.

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Thursday, July 3, 2014


WHEN in Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, expect to be hugged by the finest of arts in all its forms, food included. In this city in the Tuscan region, there is just no way to separate the two, whether it’s the gelato or the sidewalk cafeteria offering a fresh, just out of the oven Tuscan bread, or dining fancy, Firenze is oozing with old world, hand-crafted artistry on canvas and on the plate.

Deciding to escape Rome, we drove for three hours North East to spend a day in Florence. Yes, too short a time for an in depth exploration of where the Medici’s rose to power, but we intended to enjoy every minute of the visit.

With that in mind, the Il Duomo was the place we aimed to visit. The Gothic Church stands in Piazza del Duomo, the cathedral complex where two other historical buildings are, the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanille. It’s a tourist must see and the perfect place to light a candle of offering for a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, Armando & Emma, both devout Catholics.

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Of course, it called for a celebration. “What’s a good restaurant to have lunch in this city,” Tenny, our host, asked our Italian chauffer for the day. Il signor navigated the narrow, one-way streets and stopped before a small entryway—the Taverna del Bronzino at Via delle Ruote 27 Rosso.

Bronzino was the sobriquet of Agnolo di Cosimo, which was because of his relatively dark skin tone. Born in Florence, the painter Bronzino’s art style was Mannerism, a period of European art that emerged in the later years of the Italian High Renaissance around 1520 that is “notable for its intellectual sophistication as well as its artificial (as opposed to naturalistic) qualities.” He received Medici patronage in 1539 and soon became the official court painter of the Duke and his court, of which this series of portraits of the Medicis became his best-known works.

Where Taverna del Bronzino sits today is the former art studio of Bronzino. The 1580-erected building was where the artist painted for fifty years.

The art shifted from the canvas to the plate. Taverna del Bronzino is owned and run by a charming man, Umberto Rabotti, who must be used to having non-Italian guests in his place for he can converse in English quite well. He goes through the restaurant’s offerings like an artist, with an efficiency that got us nodding to everything he presented. It was like painting the ingredients in our minds that got everyone wanting to sample the dishes.

For the Antipasti, the Fiori di zucca fritti ripieni di ricotta, acciughe e pinoli, Caprese di Bufala; for Primi, the Spaghetti alla chitarra al ragout di calamari e gamberi; and Secondi, the Tagliata di manzo alla griglia con porcini trifolati. For our seafood dishes, the Moscardini in umido con purea di patate all'olio and the Spigola alla moda del bronzini.

The seafood dishes were fresh tasting and tender, the squid & shrimp pasta was delightful and the steak was perfectly cooked and tender (I had to break my no meat diet for this). He even offered us a shot of his homemade liqueur to end our meal.

It was definitely a delightful gastronomical Florentine experience for everyone. A perfect wedding anniversary celebration for the couple who has reached a milestone in their lives, and certainly a good way of remembering Florence by—art in its many forms.

Maybe next time we stay longer.

For more travel & lifestyle stories, visit http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/ and http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 03, 2014.

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