Table customs in Florence from Middle Age to Renaissance

May 12, 2017  |  Culture and Art, Florence  |  Comments Off
Restaurant at Villa le Barone Tuscany

Restaurant at Villa le Barone Tuscany

Table customs and traditions have been often reflected in Western paintings. This is particularly true for paintings from the middle Ages to the Renaissance in Florence, which are a true chronicle of life at that time and show the evolution of table habits. You can admire these paintings in the museums and churches of Florence or Siena, and in the surroundings of Villa le Barone. Perhaps you will look at them with different eyes after having read this article! You will also appreciate the care with which the table is put today in Villa le Barone!

The artists were chroniclers of their time, and the various paintings of the Middle Ages to the Renaissance show the evolution of table customs in Tuscany at that time. It is in the representations of the evangelical episodes that table settings first appear, and especially in the Last Supper’s representations. For example, in the paintings of Giotto (1266-1337), Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1318), Maestro Pisano (1215-1284), the essential elements of a table in the Middle Ages can be seen: a simple white tablecloth, plates in front of the guests, a unique dish where one takes the food with the hand to bring it directly to the mouth, in the center of the table, a single knife with a wooden handle and a long blade, a few glasses. In the 15th century, with Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494) and Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), the tablecloths are embroidered, there is a plate of metal for each guest. The spoon and the knife are the first table cutlery to appear on the table. The spoon was of wood, round, but its dimensions were reduced and it was given an oval shape. There was only one knife, used by all to cut the food, and the pieces were brought to the mouth with the hands. One of the first representations of the fork, born not as an individual cover, but to take the food in the common dish, can be found in the Abbey of Monte Olivetto (near Villa le Barone), in one fresco by Giovanni Bazzi detto il Sodoma (1477-1549). Over time, the functions of the tip of the knife will be filled by the fork, and this tip will always be more rounded and the blade less sharpened to avoid the negative impression of an offensive weapon. Note also that one wiped his mouth with the tablecloth, and the use of the napkin appears only at the end of the fifteenth century.

Fresco at the Abbey of Monte Olivetto Tuscany

Fresco at the Abbey of Monte Olivetto Tuscany

It was Catherine de Medici’s who introduced the use of the fork to the court of France. She would have said at a banquet in Fontainebleau in 1535 “Ladies and Gentlemen, you seize the meat in pieces with your fingers but grasping the meat with your fingers is considered improper and intolerable in the city from which I come,” and she showed a curious object with three pointed metal teeth: the fork.

Today table setting has been enriched, with different cutlery for each dish. The blade of the knife is rounded, it is less tapered, and it is oriented towards the plate, thus losing its offensive character. Whereas in France the forks are arranged points downwards, in Italy, as in England and the USA, they are arranged points in the air. This is how you will find your table put in the restaurant of the hotel Villa le Barone, with beautiful “Ginori” plates and all the necessary types of glasses to taste the exquisite wines of Chianti Classico!

A popular place in Florence: the “Porcellino”

December 9, 2016  |  Culture and Art, Florence  |  Comments Off
The "Porcellino" in the "Mercato Nuovo" Florence Tuscany

The “Porcellino” in the “Mercato Nuovo” Florence Tuscany

A “not to be missed” popular place in Florence is the “Porcellino” (the piglet), in fact a bronze boar fountain in the loggia of the “Mercato Nuovo”. Rub his nose and put a coin in his mouth for good luck! Also admire the sculpture by maestro Piero Tasca, commissioned by Cosimo de Medicis in 1612, but with copies now existing in many cities all over the world!

When you stroll in Florence, you cannot miss the loggia of the “Mercato Nuovo” (the New Market), built around the middle of the 16th century in the heart of the city, just a few steps from the Ponte Vecchio. It is a small market where today you can buy many souvenirs. On the south side of the loggia, you will see the famous bronze statue of a boar, with its shiny nose, as so many people have rubbed it for good fortune: you have to put a coin in his mouth and let it slip, hoping it would fall between the grates and fulfill your wishes. There are a lot of legends linked to this “Porcellino”. A 19th century US author, Charles Godfrey Leland, who settled in Florence for a part of his life, wrote about the fountain in his book “Legends of Florence collected from the People”. The Danish writer Hans Cristian Anderson also wrote a story inspired by this fountain called “The Bronze Hog”: a young boy falls asleep on the back of the bronze boar and during the night, the boar comes to life and takes him through the streets of Florence…

A detail of The "Porcellino" fountain in the "Mercato Nuovo" Florence Tuscany

A detail of The “Porcellino” fountain in the “Mercato Nuovo” Florence Tuscany

You also have to know that the “Porcellino” is a copy of a copy of a copy …The bronze boar was originally sculpted and casted by Baroque Master Pietro Tacca shortly before 1634, inspired by a marble Italian copy of a Greek marble original, which was a gift from the Pope to the Medici in the 1560s. What you will see today is a 20th century copy installed when the original bronze was moved into the Uffizzi museum (with so many people rubbing it, his nose was becoming too thin!).

And many other copies of the boar have been made recently in many cities all over the world: in Australia, in the USA (in 12 states!), in Denmark, in Sweden, in Germany, in Great Britain…

Do you have many wishes to express? Then, come to Florence in Italy! The “Porcellino” is waiting for you and will certainly fulfill them…

Italian pasta in Tuscany at Villa Barone

March 7, 2016  |  Florence  |  Comments Off
Fresh pasta (tagliatelle) prepared at hotel Villa le Barone

Fresh pasta (tagliatelle) prepared at hotel Villa le Barone

Italy is famous worldwide for its pasta and there is no other place in the world where one can enjoy a delicious dish of perfectly cooked pasta!

At Villa Le Barone, in Tuscany, after the “antipasti”, you can choose for dinner a dish of Italian pasta, either “fresh”, handmade by our chef, or “dry”, (that is dehydrated) , and accommodated in so many fashions! We use a very high quality pasta, eco labeled, made in Tuscany with Tuscan durum wheat produced in Tuscan farms, and every day, you can savor a different type of pasta!

Cooking pasta is not as easy as it sounds: it has to be cooked “al dente”, and at the last moment, and this is what we do at Villa le Barone. Of course, you will be able to taste the famous “spaghetti”, which take their name from the Italian name “spago”, which means “string”. We are preparing the spaghetti with the traditional “pomarola” (tomato sauce), but also with the “carbonara” sauce, a rich, creamy sauce of eggs, cheese and pork. We also prepare “tagliatelle”, whose name comes from the Italian “tagliare” since they are cut into long sheets of dough, and serve them with the “bolognese” or the lemon sauce, or with the 4 cheeses sauce (parmesan, pecorino, gorgonzola, taleggio). In autumn, we also accommodate them with fresh porcini mushrooms! And then, we serve the “ravioli”, small pasta envelopes

Hotel Villa le Barone The restaurant

Hotel Villa le Barone The restaurant

filled with stuffing often made of spinach and ricotta and served with butter and sage.

 

The “tortellini” (plural of tortellino which means “little pie”) which have a characteristic navel shape, are also stuffed with various mixtures of meat and parmesan, and can be served gratinated or in broth. The “lasagna” are made of alternating layers of pasta cut into large squares, of cheese, of bechamel, and of tomato sauce with meat. By the way, do you know that, already in the first century BC, Horace spoke of “Lagana” thin fried dough sheets, and that a 5th century cookbook describes a dish called “Lagana” made with layers of dough and meat?…
Every traveler will certainly want to experience the tasty sensations and unique flavors offered by the peculiarities of Italian cuisine. For a trip into the incomparable gustatory emotions of Italian pasta, choose Hotel Villa Le Barone!

Beautiful Palaces of Via Tornabuoni in Florence

January 22, 2016  |  Florence  |  Comments Off
Via Tornabuoni Florence

Via Tornabuoni Florence

It is along via Tornabuoni that you will admire the most beautiful Renaissance Palaces that the powerful Florentine families have built, the most exclusive luxury shops and the most elegant residences. It is also on Via Tornabuoni 19 in the Palazzo Larderel/Giacomini that you can rent a luxury apartment for 5 people.

Let’s start from Piazza Santa Trinita, a triangular square close to the Arno river bordered by the 14th century Palazzo Spini Feroni, headquarters of the worldwide famous luxury leather goods Ferragamo, by the Palazzo Bartolini Salembini and by the “Santa Trinita” Church.
Then, following the street which is now pedestrian your eyes are caught by many different points of atraction . There is so much to see! The fashion shops? You will find renowned Italian fashion designers: the Florentine Gucci, founded in 1906 and particularly known for its leather goods, bags and shoes; Emilio Pucci and his colorful patterns, Roberto Cavalli, with his wild prints. And the other Italian fashion brands: Prada, Max Mara, Tods…Looking for Italian jewelry shops? There is Bulgari and Pomellato. Children wear? Of course Gucci, but also Baroni founded in Florence in 1912…And fashion is also for men who can also participate in their window shopping as all main fashion brands also have lines for men.

Gucci Via Tornabuoni Florence

Gucci Via Tornabuoni Florence

One interesting shop with good buys is Vittorio di Giacomo, in Palazzo Larderel, al 19 va Tornabuoni. Looking for exclusive beauty products? In front of the San Gaetano church, at the end of the street, you will find the Officina de Tornabuoni, also in Palazzo Larderel, a beautiful palace designed by the architect Giovanni Dosio.
Wishing to have an elegant bite? There is the historic Procacci, a discrete small shop founded in 1885, famous for its specialties made with truffles, a Florentine institution!
Beyond window shopping Via Tornabuoni is also most unique or its Renaissance palaces that border the street. Look at their inviting entrances. If their massive doors are opened, have a glance inside! Raise your head and admire their “cornices” (ornamental ledges of a palace)! Most palaces, including Palazzo Larderel have the family coat of arms on the corners or on their front. Palaces have also courtyards and the apartment for rent in Palazzo Larderel has a splendid internal terrace surrounded by jasmine. Spending one week or more in such a Palace in the heart of Florence is a real treat!

To get more information contact info@villalebarone.com

Shopping in Florence in Via Tornabuoni

October 13, 2015  |  Florence  |  Comments Off
 Via Tornabuoni, Florence

Via Tornabuoni, Florence

Where to shop in Florence? Via Tornabuoni of course! This street, recently turned pedestrian, going from Piazza Trinita by the Arno River to Piazza Antinori by the Antinori Palace is bordered on both sides by magnificent Renaissance palaces built by the greatest architects, like Vasari or Dosio and by the most famous luxury brands stores. “Palazzo Larderel” (Larderel Palace) in which you can rent a superb luxury apartment through Villa le Barone, is also located on Via Tornabuoni.

There is plenty to do in Florence: go to museums, visit the Duomo and other marvelous churches, listening to concerts, enjoying Tuscan delicacies and wines … without forgetting shopping and, for this, Via Tornabuoni is the street where the best brands of Italian and international fashion are concentrated. Beautiful shop windows on the ground floor of magnificent Renaissance Palaces showcase highly selected products: close to the Arno River stands Ferragamo, a little bit further Emilio Pucci and Celine while Gucci, Prada, Hermes and Max Mara are located on the second half of the street and Vittorio di Giacomo’s shop is within the Larderel Palace itself on 19 Via Tornabuoni, in front of the beautiful San Gaetano baroque church. The major jewelers are also present: Bulgari, Pomellato, Rolex … Tod’s, a reference in the world of footwear and leather goods is not far. All the shop windows are made up as works of art! Stop in front of the store “Parenti” next to the Larderel Palace which presents itself as a “Luxury Bazaar”: their shop window is always superb!

Palazzo Larderel,Via Tornabuoni, Florence

Palazzo Larderel,Via Tornabuoni, Florence

If you want to restore yourself, you will go to the “Cantinetta Antinori” in the top of Via Tornabuoni, or treat yourself with a truffle sandwich at “Procacci”.
On 19 Via Tornabuoni, in the Larderel Palace, you will find Vittorio di Giacomo (V-design) offering beautiful clothing for men, as well as the “Officina de’ Tornabuoni” and its organic beauty products, with natural and fine fragrances. It is also on the first floor of the Larderel Palace, designed by Giovanni Dosio one of the greatest architects of the Renaissance, that the famous antique dealer “Il Quadrifoglio”, also based in Milan and London, recently moved (visit by appointment only).

On the second floor of the Palace, a beautiful luxury apartment that can host five persons is up for weekly rent (130 square meters, 3 bedrooms, large lounge, dining room, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen and above all a large terrace of 65m2). It is ideal to rest and relax after a day of shopping and visiting of monuments and museum! To know more about this possibility,link to www.palazzolarderel.com or write to info@villalebarone.com, an occasion to treat yourself to one week (or more) of beautiful sightseeing and shopping in Florence!