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FL museums

Florence has over 80 museums. Here are just a few:

Uffizi Gallery

Fl museum Uffizi

The Uffizi Gallery, housing one of the finest collections of art in the world today, is Florence’s most visited museum. It is housed in the Palazzo degli Uffizi and was commissioned by Cosimo I of Medici in the year 1560. The building, designed by the famous architect, Giorgio Vasari, was later added on to by Bernardo Buontalenti and Alfonso Parigi, with its construction finished in 1581.

The Palazzo degli Uffizi was initially built to be an office for the magistrates of Florence, but was turned into an art gallery by Francesco de Medici, Cosimo’s son, who set aside certain rooms on the upper floors of the building to be used as a museum where objects from his collection could be exhibited. Francesco’s collection, which he started in 1574, was eventually added to by succeeding Medicis, most notably Leopoldo de Medici, who is credited with owning almost half of the total number of paintings on display in the gallery today.

It was Leopoldo, who is also credited with having collected the vast number of artist’s self portraits in the museum and the gallery’s collection of miniatures, which is second only to the world’s largest collection of miniature paintings housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The history of the Uffizi gallery and its collection goes back, not just to the 16th century when the gallery was started, but to art created in the 13th century and displayed in the corridors of the gallery. The Medici princes and kings kept on contributing to the gallery from their personal collections until the 18th century and ended up creating a legacy of some of the finest and exceptional works of art that can see anywhere in the world, today.

After the house of Medici was extinguished, the art treasures remained in Florence by terms of the “Patto di famiglia” negotiated by Anna Maria Luisa, the last Medici heiress; it formed one of the first modern museums. The gallery had been open to visitors by request since the sixteenth century and in 1765 it was officially opened to the public.

Because of its huge collection, some of its works have in the past been transferred to other museums in Florence—for example, some of the classical statues went to the Bargello. A recent project expanded the museum’s exhibition space from 6,000 metres (64,000 ft) to almost 13,000 metres (139,000 ft), allowing public viewing of many artworks that had been in storage. Today, the Uffizi is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Florence. In high season (particularly in July), waiting times can be up to five hours. Visitors who reserve a ticket in advance have a shorter wait.

Bargello Museum

FL museum_Bargello

The Bargello Museum is a sculpture gallery for Renaissance art. Officially titled, the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, the museum contains priceless marble and bronze statues created by artists Donatello, Verrocchio and Michelangelo. Built in 1255, this turreted fortress is a recognizable structure in a city filled with memorable buildings. Throughout its existence, the Bargello has had many uses, including a mayor’s office, a prison and a courtroom. In 1574, the building earned the name that it is now known for because Florence’s chief of police (il Bargello) moved his headquarters there. The Bargello began its life as a museum in 1859 in order to accept the overflow of sculptural treasures from the Uffizi Gallery.

Laid out over three floors in beautifully decorated and vaulted loggias surrounded by an inner courtyard (which was used, during its prison days as the site of executions), the Bargello has a museum setting that is more manageable than the sprawling Uffizi. On the ground floor is the Michelangelo Room, that also houses art works by Cellini, Giambologna and a few other notable artists.

One flight up is the enormous Donatello Room, formerly the Salone del Consiglio Generale (the Great Council Chamber). It holds Donatello’s bronze sculpture of David, his marble sculpture of St. George and the original bronze door panels that Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi sculpted for the Baptistery doors competition. This floor contains several other rooms including the Mary Magdalene Chapel, which has frescoes attributed to the work of Giotto; a room of Islamic artworks; and other rooms displaying ivories, majolica work and sculptures and iconography from the 13th and 14th centuries.

On the top floor, visitors will find rooms dedicated to the artists Verrocchio, Andrea and Giovanni della Robbia; a collection of small bronze sculptures in the Sala dei Bronzetti; and a section consisting of sculptures from the Baroque period.

Galleria dell’Accademia

Fl museum Accademia

The Galleria dell’Accademia is one of Florence’s top museums, chiefly because it is home to Michelangelo’s, David, and the statue is the highlight of an extensive collection of Italian art. Michelangelo’s David was moved here in 1873 to protect it from the elements. The sculpture had once stood outside the Palazzo Vecchio and was “the” symbol of Florence. So it was imperative that the Accademia provide a gallery worthy of such an important piece of Florence’s heritage. Architect Emilio de Fabris was hired to design a special wing for the prized statue.

In 1784, Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo founded the Accademia di Belle Arti, Florence’s Fine Arts Academy and the adjoining Galleria dell’Accademia. For the gallery’s collection, the Grand Duke amassed Tuscan works to serve as examples for the student’s of the academy to study. Over the years, the Accademia acquired many drawings, painting and sculptures dating from the 13th to the 16th centuries, including works by Botticelli, Pontormo, Giambologna and Lorenzo Monaco. Over the years, the Accademia has grown to include a Department of Musical Instruments, which houses historic musical instruments from the adjacent Cherubini Conservatory.

Museo Galileo

Fl museums Galileo

On the banks of the Arno, close to the Ponte Vecchio, stands a small and often missed museum. Hidden from the crowds milling outside the nearby Uffizi, the Museo Galileo sits in the heart of Renaissance Florence. The museum’s origins are centuries old. It is housed in the 12th century Palazzo Castellani. In 1657, in memory of the recently deceased Galileo Galilei, the city of Florence founded the world’s first scientific institution, the Accademia del Cimento – the Academy for Experimentation, which was the start of a passion for the discovery of scientific knowledge and principles.

A part of the museum is dedicated to the life and works of Galileo, with many of his experiments faithfully reproduced. A display of his original instruments includes telescopes by which he revolutionised astronomy and validated the theories of Copernicus – which led to Galileo being summoned before the Inquisition. The objective lens Galileo used when discovering Jupiter’s four largest satellites, now named the Galilean moons, is also displayed, as are some of his notebooks.

Palazzo Pitti

Fl museum Palazzo-Pitti

The massive palace that was once home to the Medici Grand Dukes now houses six museums and the Boboli Gardens. The galleries contain works by late-Renaissance and baroque artists Caravaggio, Rubens, Perugino, Giorgione, Guido Reni, Fra Bartolomeo, Tintoretto, Botticelli, Filippo Lippi, Pontormo and Beccafumi.

The Giardini di Boboli (Boboli Gardens), one of the finest parks anywhere, was designed between 1549 and 1656. This statue-filled park features fountains, grottoes, a Kaffeehaus for refreshments in the summer, grassy meadows for relaxing and pleasant wooded areas.

It is also where the world’s first true opera premiered. In 1589, the Medici held a wedding reception in the Boboli Gardens and for the occasion commissioned musical entertainment from Jacopo Peri and Ottavio Rinuccini. The composers came up with the novel idea of setting a classical story (Dafne) to music and having actors sing the whole thing. Thus was the birth of opera. The team later collaborated on Euridice (1600), which also premiered here and whose score has survived as the oldest opera.

The rest of the Pitti Palace contains:
The Galleria d’Arte Moderna (Modern Art gallery) and The Galleria del Costume (Costume Gallery) with costumes dating back to the 1500s.The Museo degli Argenti (Silver Museum) contains a decorative arts collection, the Museo delle Porcellane (Museum of Porcelain) and the Museo delle Carrozze (Museum of Carriages).

florencemap

Medieval Cuisine

The cuisine of the Middle Ages was more international with recipes, ingredients and flavors that were practically identical throughout Europe and unified by the social standards. On one hand, there was the nobility with its preferences for wild game and fish. These dishes were favored by the dignitaries that passed from one Court to the next and were characterized by an exaggerated use of spices, the real status symbol of the period. On the other hand, there were the common people, who were able to sustain themselves with what came from the land or the market, giving life to the “characterizations” that would later define separate national and regional cuisines, specific ingredients and local customs. For example, the well-recognized use of vegetable oils in the south of Italy versus animal fat (lard and butter) in the north.

The three main cookbooks from the period were Liber de coquina (a cookbook contained in a miscellaneous text dedicated to Charles II of Anjou at the beginning of the XIV century), the Libro della cocina bolognese (written in Tuscan dialect) and the Libro per cuoco (by an anonymous Venetian written at the end of the century). These books are actually real kitchen manuals, written and copied (before the printing press was invented) to be sold to professional chefs, who would be able follow the suggestions and recommendations. The chefs would have also been capable of estimating how much of an ingredient to use, as quantities were entirely missing from the books.

Here are details of a banquet given on January 23, 1529 by the son of the Duke of Ferrara for his father and various dignitaries. The total guest list numbered 104.

“The antipasto course consisted of cold dishes: a caper, truffle and raisin salad in pastry, another salad of greens with citron juice and anchovy salads. There were also radishes carved into shapes, little cream pies, prosciutto of pork tongue, boar pies, mortadella and liver pies, smoked mullet served several different ways and gilt-head bream. The first course had capon fritters sprinkled with sugar, quails, tomaselle (liver sausage), capon liver stuffed into a caul (netting of pork fat) and roasted pheasants, an onion dish, pigeons in puff pastry, tarts of fish ilt (spleen), fried trout tails and barbel (a fish), quails, meatballs, white cervelat sausage, veal, capon in sweet wine, pigeon pastries, carp, turbot, shrimp, trout roe pies, a yellow almond concoction and pastries. The next course had partridge, rabbit, turtle-dove, sausages, boned capon, pigeons and more fish. This proceeded on to a fourth course, again with birds, fish, a rice pie and other dishes. A fifth course followed with some suckling pig, veal and more birds and fish as well. A sixth course with more veal prepared a different way, peacock, goat, boar and also more fish was eaten. The seventh course finally sees some vegetables, fennel, olives, grapes, pears and other pastries; citron, lettuce, cucumbers and almonds in syrup and various fruits and confections.”

Fl fish

Baccala alla Vincentina (Stewed Codfish)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. dried codfish
  • 1 1/3 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 4 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 1/4 cups milk

Directions

Prepare the fish: skin and cut into thick slices. Saute the onion in the oil over a low heat until soft. Add the parsley, garlic and anchovies and stir until just coated. Remove from heat. Mix the flour, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Coat the fish with the mixture and place in a heavy metal or earthenware pan. Fish should fit snugly in a single layer. Sprinkle with cheese, add the anchovy and onion sauce and cover with milk. Bring slowly to boiling, cover and set over a very low heat until the liquid is absorbed, about 2 1/2 hours. Serves 4.

FL stew

Medieval Rabbit or Chicken Stew With Herbs and Barley

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces butter
  • 2 -3 lbs rabbit joints or 2 -3 lbs chicken pieces
  • 1 lb leek, washed and trimmed, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 6 ounces barley
  • 3 3/4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 15 fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped

Directions

Melt the butter in a heavy pan and fry the meat with the leeks and garlic until the vegetables are slightly softened and the meat lightly browned. Add the barley, water, vinegar, bay leaves and seasoning.
Bring the pot to the boil.Cover it and simmer gently for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is really tender and ready to fall from the bone. Add the sage and continue to cook for several minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste and serve in bowls.

Fl eggplant
Petonciane in Agrodolce (Sweet & Sour Eggplant)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons raisins
  • 1 small stalk celery, diced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon minced mint

Directions

Salt the eggplant chunks. Heat the oil in a skillet and fry the eggplant. Drain. Remove the oil, wipe the pan of any excess oil and add the remaining ingredients, along with the cooked eggplant. Cook over medium heat until tender. Add mint. Serve at room temperature.

FL book

Libro della cocina bolognese

 

 

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cellini

The self-portrait of master goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini. An Italian Renaissance painting that disappeared from view for 450 years was yesterday declared to be the previously unknown self-portrait of the 16th century master goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini. The painting was unveiled in Paris after a team of experts concluded during 11 months of art detective work that it was genuine. Although the value of the work is said to be difficult to calculate, its owner, a private collector who apparently has no wish to sell, is insuring it for £60 million. He found the painting in an antiques sale in France a year ago, paying an undisclosed sum. Convinced that the painting was Cellini’s, the collector approached Italian art authorities, offering it for research and display, only to be turned away. He then commissioned the Parisian art laboratory Cosmo di Medici to conduct a detailed study. By a process involving comparison with the only other known portrait of Cellini, physio-chemical analysis and even psychological profiling, the experts agreed that the work was Cellini’s, painted in his native Florence between 1555 and 1565. (colin.randall@telegraph.co.uk)

Benvenuto Cellini was a Florentine sculptor, goldsmith, soldier and writer. He was born in 1500 in Florence, Italy and his parents were Giovanni Cellini and Maria Lisabetta Granacci. They were married for eighteen years before the birth of their first child. Benvenuto was the second child of the family. The son of a musician and builder of musical instruments, Cellini was pushed towards music,but when he was fifteen his father reluctantly agreed to apprentice him to the goldsmith, Antonio di Sandro. However, at the age of sixteen, Benvenuto attracted attention in Florence by taking part in an altercation with his companions. He was banished for six months by the magistrates and went to live in Siena, where he worked for a goldsmith named Fracastoro. From Siena he moved to Bologna, where he became a more accomplished flute player and made progress as a goldsmith. After a visit to Pisa and a period of studying sculpture in Florence, he moved to Rome.

His first artistic works were a silver casket, silver candlesticks and a vase for the bishop of Salamanca, which won him the approval of Pope Clement VII. Another celebrated work from his time in Rome is the gold medallion, “Leda and the Swan”, created for Gonfaloniere Gabbriello Cesarino that is now in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence. He also took up the flute again and was appointed one of the pope’s court musicians.

In the attack on Rome by Charles III, Duke of Bourbon, Cellini gained fame as a soldier. According to his own accounts, he shot and injured Philibert of Châlon, Prince of Orange. His bravery led to a reconciliation with the Florentine magistrates and he soon returned to his hometown of Florence. Here, he devoted himself to crafting medals in gold, the most famous of which are “Hercules and the Nemean Lion” and “Atlas Supporting the Sphere”, the latter eventually falling into the possession of Francis I of France.

He returned to Rome and this time he was employed in the craft of making jewelery and in casting dies for medals and the papal mint. In 1529 his brother, Cecchino, killed a Corporal of the Roman Watch and, in turn, was wounded. He later died. Soon afterward Benvenuto killed his brother’s killer – an act of blood revenge, but not justice, as Cellini admits that his brother’s killer had acted in self-defense. Cellini fled to Naples to escape the consequences. Through the influence of several cardinals, he later obtained a pardon. Cellini next went to Venice, where he was restored with greater honor than before.

At the age of 37, after returning from a visit to the French court, he was imprisoned on a charge (apparently false) of having embezzled the gems of the pope’s tiara during the war. He was confined to the Castel Sant’Angelo, escaped, was recaptured and treated severely. The intercession Cardinal d’Este of Ferrara, eventually secured Cellini’s release, in gratitude for which he crafted d’Este a gold cup.

Bust of Benvenuto Cellini on the Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Bust of Benvenuto Cellini on the Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Besides his works in gold and silver, Cellini created sculptures of a grander scale. One of the main projects of his French period is probably the “Golden Gate” for the Château de Fontainebleau. Only the bronze tympanum of this unfinished work, which represents the Nymph of Fontainebleau (Paris, Louvre), still exists, but the complete spectrum of his work can be known through archives,his preparatory drawings and reproduced casts. His most distinguished sculpture, the bronze group of “Perseus with the Head of Medusa” now in the Loggia dei Lanzi at Florence, was his attempt to surpass Michelangelo’s, “David” and Donatello’s, “Judith and Holofernes”. The casting of this work caused Cellini much trouble and anxiety, but it was called a masterpiece as soon as it was completed. By 1996, centuries of environmental pollution exposure had damaged the statue. In December 1996 it was removed from the Loggia and transferred to the Uffizi for cleaning and restoration. It was a slow, years-long process and the restored statue was returned to its home in June 2000.

The autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini was started when he was 58 and ended just before his last trip to Pisa around the year 1563, when Cellini was approximately 63 years old. The memoirs give a detailed account of his career, as well as his loves, hatreds, passions and enjoyments, that is written in an energetic, direct and racy style. They show a great self-regard and self-assertion, sometimes running into extravagances which are impossible to credit. Despite its exaggerations and its often boastful tone, it is a document of surprising frankness and incomparable authenticity and, thanks to it Cellini’s character, is more intimately known than that of any other figure of his time.

He died in Florence in 1571 at the age of 71 leaving behind a magnificent legacy of work. For all his exploits, Benvenuto Cellini remains a hero of Florence, in the Piazzale Degli Uffizi, outside the famous Uffizi Gallery, a life-size sculptor of him stands alongside the great masters of renaissance art, Da Vinci, Raphael and, of course, Michelangelo.

Still in the news today, Cellini’s gold and enamel masterpiece the “Saltcellar of Francis I” executed in 1540 for the King of France and valued today at $60,000,000, was recovered recently after being stolen from a museum in Vienna. Being chosen as a member of the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno shows the respect he commanded: not just as an artist but as a patron of Florence.

florence

Some Florentine Specialties

Much of the simplicity of Tuscan cuisine was born out of necessity. Wild herbs and greens were used in simple soups. Every part of the animal was used–cibreo is a popular Florentine chicken stew that features cockscombs. Tuscan bread, a rustic sourdough baked in a wood-fired oven, traditionally was made without expensive salt. That meant it quickly went stale and so ribollita was born, a vegetable soup thickened with bread. Panzanella is a summer salad made from stale bread cubes, fresh tomatoes, basil and Tuscany’s famed olive oil. Wheat flour was another expensive ingredient and so Tuscans created dishes like castagnaccio, a cake made with chestnut flour, raisins, pine nuts, orange zest and olive oil.
Dishes here have hearty, rustic flavors, well-matched to the area’s famous wines, and Florentines enjoy eating their regional cuisine in friendly, warm, informal settings.

Typically, Florentine people never start a meal from the main course but always have a starter first. Whether eating in a restaurant or at home with friends, you will always find liver crostini (thin sliced toasted bread with liver patè) on the table. Alongside liver crostini the usual antipasto also offers different types of sliced salamis and hams.

Pappardelle (similar to spaghetti, but a thicker pasta made with egg) with boar or hare sauce. It can be seasoned with other classic ingredients: porcini mushrooms, meat sauces, artichokes and sausages, etc. Other first course dishes are the soups: pappa al pomodoro, ribollita, carabaccia and black cabbage. These are all variations of a single base made from vegetables, bread and tomato.

The hills around Florence abound with game, including wild boar which is used in locally made salamis and air-dried hams. Duck and rabbit appear on the table grilled. Fish from the region’s lakes and seafood from the coastal areas appear on the table. Porcini, wild mushrooms, are another favorite served in the fall after foragers have combed the woods around the city.

Bistecca alla fiorentina (a T-bone steak) is served rare with a drizzle of Tuscan olive oil and often accompanied by white beans, roasted potatoes or a green salad. Porchetta is a suckling pig, stuffed with garlic and herbs and brushed with a rosemary branch while its roasts. Trippa alla fiorentina, tripe cooked with wine, tomatoes and herbs, is another signature dish.

Florentine desserts: cantucci (small almond biscuits) to eat at the end of a meal dipped in Vinsanto or in the colder seasons the castagnaccio, that takes its name from the nearby mountains , is a thin cake made of chestnut flour and pine nuts. During Carnival or after the Epiphany, you can find schiacciata alla fiorentina, a soft sweet, sponge cake which can be filled with cream or chocolate and covered with powdered sugar.

Sometimes Florentines like eating a sandwich in the street for lunch. In addition to steak, Florence offers other meat specialties such as tripe and lampredotto. These are foods that are eaten in kiosks on the street, even in winter.They can be seasoned with green sauce and enriched with other vegetables, such as leeks.

chicken-liver-crostini-Bourgeois

Chicken Liver Crostini

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 pound chicken livers, rinsed
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • Salt, pepper and red chili flakes to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • Baguette, sliced thinly and toasted
  • Sea salt, optional

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the onions, capers and garlic and sauté just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the thyme, Marsala, anchovies and chicken livers. Season with salt, pepper and chili and cook until the chicken livers are just cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and discard the thyme. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a food processor. Add the butter and purée until smooth. 

To serve, spread the chicken liver on toasted baguette slices and garnish with sea salt, if desired.

pappa

Pappa al Pomodoro

Many Florentine recipes make use of leftover ingredients. Pappa al Pomodoro, a thick, hearty soup made with dry bread, is one of the city’s classic dishes.

Serves four

Ingredients

  • 4–8 cloves of garlic, according to taste
  • 1 14-ounce can of plum tomatoes
  • 1 pound of dry, stale (preferably unsalted Tuscan) bread, broken into small pieces
  • 4–6 cups of water or warmed vegetable broth
  • 1 bunch (20 leaves) of basil, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Half teaspoon of crushed and dried chili pepper
  • 1 leek (white flesh only), finely chopped

Directions

Place the bread in a bowl and add water or broth. Cover and put aside for at least an hour.

Sauté the garlic and leek in oil. Add dried chili pepper, the tomatoes, half the basil and a dash of salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Squeeze excess broth from the soaked bread and add to the oil and tomatoes. Cook for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve hot with remaining basil and a swirl of olive oil.

Minestra

Ribollita

Ribollita means “reboiled,” because to make this rich, thick vegetable soup correctly, it must be cooked and recooked. Ribollita appears with many variations, but the key ingredient is cavolo nero ( winter black cabbage), though kale, chard, or green and Savoy cabbage can also be used. Add zucchini, potatoes, Brussels sprouts and other vegetables according to taste.

Ingredients

  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 leek (white flesh) finely chopped
  • 3 chopped carrots
  • 3 fresh or canned peeled plum tomatoes
  • 2 cups canned white cannellini beans
  • 1 quarter cavolo nero or equivalent
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard and/or spinach
  • 1 finely chopped celery stalk and leaves
  • 4 chopped zucchini 
  • 2 peeled and cubed potatoes 
  • 1 pound stale Italian bread 
  • 4 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper
  • Water
  • Olive oil
  • Oregano, rosemary and hot chili pepper as desired

Directions

Sauté the onion, leek, and garlic in a Dutch Oven in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add carrots, celery, chili pepper and cook for ten minutes. Add tomatoes, cabbage, beans, herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 10 to 20 minutes.

Add tomato paste, zucchini, potatoes or other vegetables of choice and water to cover the ingredients. Cook gently for 90 minutes, adding water as necessary,

Chill the soup overnight. The next day purée half the mixture, return to the pot. Bring to a boil and reheat.

Ladling the soup over a thick slice of toasted dry bread and add a swirl of olive oil to each serving.

ganugi-pappardelle-gross

Pappardelle with Duck

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound duck breast, skin removed
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf, broken into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • Fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 pound dried pappardelle pasta

Directions

Rub the meat with the orange zest, lemon zest, rosemary and bay leaf. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove the duck breast from the herbs and dice the meat.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion, carrot and celery until soft, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the diced duck meat. Cook until the meat has changed color, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the red wine; cook until the alcohol has reduced and evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chicken stock. Simmer for 45-60 minutes, until the sauce is rich and thick.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain pasta and mix with the sauce to serve.

Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Traditionally, a T-bone from local Chianina beef cattle is preferred, but an ordinary T-bone (or porterhouse) can also be used.

Serves at least four

Ingredients

  • 2-pound T-bone steak, three fingers thick
  • Sea salt (coarse)

Directions

Florentines grill the meat over a very hot wood or coal, but it can also be cooked on a hot skillet or griddle.

Grill the steak, without seasoning, for three to five minutes. Florentines often grill the steak standing up on the bone for a few minutes at the end to cook around the T-bone.

The meat should be seared and crispy on the outside and red, almost raw at its heart. Allow to rest for ten minutes then cut the meat off the bone into large chunks.

Season with coarse sea salt and serve.

cake

Schiacciata Alla Fiorentina

Serves: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup warm whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Powdered sugar, for topping

Directions

Preheat the oven to 360 degrees F. Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and orange zest in a mixing bowl.

In another bowl mix orange juice, eggs, milk and oil and pour into bowl with flour.

Beat with a hand mixer until thoroughly mixed together, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Pour the batter to the greased pan and bake for about 25 minutes.

Test the cake with a toothpick inserted into the center. If it comes out clean, the cake is done.

Let cool for about 30 minutes on the counter, then turn the cake out of the baking pan. Slice and serve sprinkled with powdered sugar.

 

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A painting by Italian master, Sebastiano Ricci, long presumed to be lost, has turned up in Texas after a 300-year journey from the hands of a European nobleman playboy to a fur trader and finally through generations of one family.

Italian Painting

Italian art has influenced several major movements throughout the centuries and has produced numerous great artists. Today, Italy has an important place in the international art scene, with several major art galleries and museums. Major artistic centers in the country include its capital city, Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Naples and Turin.

Until the 13th century, art in Italy was almost entirely regional. After 1250 the art of the various regions developed characteristics in common, so that a certain unity, as well as, great originality was established. During the Middle Ages, painters and sculptors tried to give their works a spiritual quality. They wanted viewers to concentrate on the deep religious meaning of their art work. But Renaissance painters and sculptors, like Renaissance writers, wanted to portray people and nature realistically.

During the early 1300s, the Florentine painter, Giotto, became the first artist to portray nature realistically. He produced frescoes (paintings on damp plaster) for churches in Assisi, Florence, Padua and Rome. Giotto attempted to create lifelike figures showing real emotions in realistic settings.

Another Florentine painter, Masaccio, produced his finest work in a series of frescoes he painted around 1427 in the Brancacci Chapel of the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence. The frescoes realistically show Biblical scenes of emotional intensity. In these paintings, Masaccio utilized Brunelleschi’s system for achieving linear perspective, a mathematical system with which painters could show space and depth on a flat surface.

Art in the late 1400s and early 1500s was dominated by three artists: Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci.

Michelangelo excelled as a painter, architect and poet. He was a master of portraying the human figure. For example, his statue of the Israelite leader, Moses (1516) gives an overwhelming impression of physical and spiritual power. These qualities also appear in the frescoes of biblical and classical subjects that Michelangelo painted on the ceiling of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. The frescoes, painted from 1508 to 1512, rank among the greatest works of Renaissance art.

Raphael

Raphael’s paintings are softer in outline than those of Michelangelo. Raphael was skilled in creating perspective and in the delicate use of color. He painted a number of outstanding portraits. One of his greatest works is the fresco, The School of Athens. The painting was influenced by classical Greek and Roman models. It portrays the great philosophers and scientists of ancient Greece in a setting of classical arches.

Da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci painted two of the most famous works of Renaissance art: The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. Da Vinci wanted to know how everything that he saw in nature worked. In over 4,000 pages of notebooks, he drew detailed diagrams and wrote his observations. Leonardo made careful drawings of human skeletons and muscles, trying to learn how the body worked and, as a result, he became a symbol of the Renaissance spirit of learning and intellectual curiosity.

Other Italian Art Movements:

  • Futurism was an Italian art movement that flourished from 1909 until about 1916. It was the first of many art movements that tried to break with the past in all areas of life. Futurism glorified the power and speed of the machine age.
  • Metaphysical Painting is an Italian art movement, born in 1917 with the work of Carlo Carrà and Giorgio de Chirico in Ferrara. The word metaphysical, adopted by De Chirico himself, is core to the basics of the movement. They illustrated a dreamlike imagery, with figures and objects seemingly frozen in time and in unusual arrangements as dummy-like models in strange, illogical contexts depicted in unreal colors.
  • The Novecento Movement, a group of Italian artists formed in 1922 in Milan, advocated a return to the great Italian representational art of the past. This group sought to renew Italian art by rejecting European avant-garde movements and embracing Italy’s artistic traditions.
  • A movement founded by the Italian artist, Lucio Fontana, was the Movimento Spaziale (1947 and 1954) that combined elements of concrete art, dada and tachism. The movement’s devotees rejected easel painting and embraced new technological developments, seeking to incorporate time and movement in their works and utilized dabs or splotches of color to define this art form.
  • Arte Povera, an artistic movement that originated in Italy in the 1960s, combined aspects of conceptual, minimalist and performance art that made use of worthless or common materials, such as bricks or newspapers, in the hope of subverting the commercialization of art. The phrase is Italianand literally means, “impoverished art.” Arte Povera, was introduced in Italy during the period when artists began attacking the values of established institutions of government, industry and culture. The movement centered on a group of Italian artists who attacked the corporate mentality with an art of unconventional materials and style.

Modern Italian and Italian American Painters

Michelangelo Pistoletto was born in Biella (in the northern Italian region of Piedmont) in 1933. His artistic training began in the studio of his father, a painter and restorer, where he went to work at the age of fourteen. He subsequently attended Armando Testa’s advertising design school.

In 1955 he began to exhibit self-portraits that characterized his painting in the late fifties. He received the San Fedele Prize in Milan in 1958. In 1960 he had his first solo show at Galleria Galatea in Turin. That same year he made several life-sized self-portraits on gold, silver and copper monochrome backgrounds. In 1961 he created a series of works entitled, The Present, painting his own image on a black background to which a layer of transparent varnish gave a mirror gloss.

Mirror Painting: Man and Woman on a Balcony, 1962

In 1962 he perfected the technique of Mirror Painting: he produced an image on tissue paper by enlarging a photograph to life size, painting it with the tip of a brush and then affixing it onto a sheet of mirror-finished stainless steel. After 1971, the painted tissue was replaced by a silkscreen of the photographic image. The Mirror Paintings, shown for the first time in March 1963 at Galleria Galatea, quickly brought Pistoletto international acclaim and led to his inclusion in major exhibitions of Pop Art and Nouveau Realisme. During the sixties the artist had solo shows in important galleries and museums in Europe and the United States: in 1964 at Galerie Sonnabend in Paris, in 1966 at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, in 1967 at the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels and in 1969 at the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam. In 1967 he received the Belgian critics’ prize and the São Paulo Biennale award. Pistoletto is considered one of the leading figures of Arte Povera because his works, which precede the official birth of the movement, are most representative of the utilization of common materials in an art form, like the piece, Venus of the Rags, 1967, containing the rags that were initially used by Pistoletto for cleaning the mirror paintings.

Maltagliati with Leek Sauce

A favorite pasta dish in the Piedmont region of italy.

Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb all-purpose flour
  • 6 whole eggs
  • 6 leeks, cleaned and sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup light cream
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Garnish with thin strips of leek

Directions

Mix the flour with the eggs in a processor, mixer or by hand.

Roll out the dough thinly, using a pasta roller or rolling pin.

Cut the pasta sheets into medium-size diamonds.

In a large skillet, brown leeks in butter. Salt to taste.

In the meantime, cook the pasta in abundant boiling salted water: drain and add to the browned leeks in the skillet.

Add the cream, adjust salt and mix well. Finish with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese and leek strips.

Bice Lazzari (1900–1981), whose career balanced design and fine arts, created compositions by drawing free-hand lines, often over washes of soft color. Her poetic works resemble graphs, maps, and representative of her lifelong passion for music—musical staffs and notes.

Born in Venice, Lazzari, who would become one of Italy’s most revered modern artists, was discouraged from studying the human figure in art school in the 1910s because of her gender. She pursued the visual arts, adopting the informal style of the prevailing movement, abstract European painting in the mid-twentieth century. Lazzari’s earliest works, including still lifes, landscapes and portraits, demonstrate her skill as a figurative painter. However, she began to experiment with abstraction as early as 1925. Lazzari increasingly explored abstract form while continuing to work in the applied and decorative arts.

As her career developed, she further simplified her imagery, drawing or painting grids, lines, rows of dots and dashes and irregular shapes against a monochromatic background. Though her marks are exact and rigorous, Lazzari created her compositions freely and drew by hand creating rhythms that interact, emphasizing the play between surface and depth and brilliantly bringing her works to life.

Self Portait in oil.

Bice Lazzari: Signature Line was on view at NMWA May 10–September 22, 2013, as part of the 2013—Year of Italian Culture in the United States, an initiative organized by Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Italy, Washington, D.C. This exhibition presented a selection of 25 paintings and drawings from the Archivio Bice Lazzari in Rome.

Zaletti

(Cornmeal, pine nut and raisin cookies)

Zaletti are a traditional cookie from the Veneto region. They are often enjoyed together with a glass of sparkling wine, like Prosecco.These cookies are called zaletti due to their yellow color. “Zaletti” means “little yellow things” in the Veneto dialect.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 lb cornmeal
  • 3 ½ oz sugar
  • 1/2 lb all-purpose flour
  • 5 oz butter
  • 3 oz raisins, soaked in warm water
  • 2 ½ oz pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 easpoon vanilla
  • Zest of 1 lemon, grated

Directions

Mix the cornmeal, flour and baking powder in a bowl. Beat the butter with the sugar in a mixer, then add the flour mixture. Add the raisins, previously soaked in warm water, the pine nuts, milk, grated lemon zest and vanilla. Mix well.

With your hands, shape the mixture into small oval cakes about 3 inches long. Place them on a lightly buttered baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven set at 375 degree F. Cooking time is generally 20-25 minutes, but it can vary according to the size of the “zaletti”.

Robert Henry De Niro (May 3, 1922 – May 3, 1993) was an American abstract expressionist painter and the father of actor Robert De Niro. Robert De Niro, Sr. was born in Syracuse, New York, to an Italian American father, Henry Martin De Niro (1897–1976), whose parents emigrated from Ferrazzano, in the province of Campobasso, Molise and an Irish American mother, Helen (née O’Reilly; 1899–1999). Robert De Niro Sr. studied at the Black Mountain College under Josef Albers from 1939 to 1940. While Albers’ highly analytical approach to painting did not appeal to De Niro’s more instinctive style, the experience and international perspective of the Bauhaus master, nonetheless, left a lasting impression. De Niro next studied with Hans Hofmann at his Provincetown, Massachusetts summer school. Hofmann’s teaching focused on Abstract Expressionism and Cubist formalism that had a strong influence on De Niro’s development as a mature artist.

After getting married in 1942, De Niro moved to New York’s Greenwich Village, where he was able to paint and surround himself with an illustrious circle of friends including writers, Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller, playwright Tennessee Williams and the famous Berlin dancer, Valeska Gert.

Being a self-proclaimed perfectionist, De Niro painted and repainted his canvases again and again. He would do hundreds of studies before he decided to paint the subject. In 1945, De Niro was included in the Fall exhibition at Peggy Guggenheim’s, The Art of This Century Gallery on 57th Street in New York. Reviews of the exhibition praised the work of De Niro, as well as, that of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. He had his first solo exhibition at The Art of This Century Gallery the following year.

Flowers in a Blue Vase

De Niro had a series of solo exhibitions at the Charles Egan Gallery in New York and by the mid-1950s, De Niro was regularly included in important group exhibitions, such as the Whitney Annual, the Stable Annual and the Jewish Museum.

From 1961-1964, De Niro traveled to France to paint in Paris and in the surrounding countryside. Collector Joseph Hirshhorn purchased a number of the artist’s paintings and works on paper during this period through De Niro’s gallerist, Virginia Zabriskie, which are now in the permanent collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC. In 1968, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. His work is included in several museum collections including the Brooklyn Museum, Baltimore Museum of Art, Mint Museum, Hirshhorn Museum, Kansas City Art Institute and the Yellowstone Museum Art Center. Robert De Niro was a visiting artist at Michigan State University’s Department of Art in the early 1960s. He died of cancer at age 71, on May 3, 1993.

Spicy Stewed Octopus

In this dish, typically found in Molise along the Adriatic coast, the octopus is flavored with spicy peperoncino (chili peppers), giving it an extra kick.

Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb baby octopus
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • Whole chili peppers, to taste
  • 1 ½ oz parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Clean the octopus in salted water and rinse well. Saute the onion in a skillet with the olive oil and peperoncino.

Add the octopus, parsley and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Cover the pan with a lid and cook over low heat for 2 hours, stirring the octopus from time to time with a wooden spoon.

Add a little water to keep the pan from drying out. Serve warm.

 

Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia (June 14, 1909 – September 17, 1982) was an American impressionist painter. DeGrazia is known for his colorful images of Native American children of the American Southwest and other Western scenes. Born to Italian immigrants, DeGrazia’s family emmigrated from Amantea, Calabria (Southern Italy). His parents, Dominic and Lucia DeGrazia, were strong people who worked very hard for their family of seven children. His father and uncles were copper miners in Morenci, Arizona Territory, where DeGrazia was born in 1909. After graduation from high school, DeGrazia worked the mines with his family. It was then he realized, he did not want to live life as a miner and said that he couldn’t live without the sunlight.

“Market #29,” by Ted DeGrazia

With almost no possessions, DeGrazia caught a ride and headed for Tucson. With fifteen dollars in his pocket, he enrolled at the University of Arizona in 1933. He played his trumpet at night and landscaped at the University of Arizona during the day, to pay for his classes. He studied music and received his first Bachelors degree in Art Education. His second Bachelors degree was in Fine Arts. DeGrazia would eventually go back to school to earn a Master’s degree in Art Education in 1945.

Any money he could save went towards art supplies. Any extra time he had went to his art. He was searching, trying to find his own style. In 1941, Arizona Highways Magazine began to publish DeGrazia’s work. In 1942, DeGrazia traveled to Mexico City where he met Diego Rivera, Mexico’s master muralist. Rivera was taken with DeGrazia’s artistic talent and agreed to take him on as an apprentice. DeGrazia assisted Rivera with murals at the Palacio Nacional and the Hospital de Jesus. DeGrazia also worked with José Clemente Orozco during this apprenticeship. The two Mexican masters sponsored an exhibition of DeGrazia’s paintings at the Palace of Fine Art in Mexico City in 1942.

Excerpts from DeGrazia’s politically-based mural painted on a University of Arizona interior wall circa 1932. Photograph by Reggie Russell

DeGrazia returned to the University of Arizona, studying under Katherine Kitt. In 1944, DeGrazia was hired by the University of Arizona, to complete a mural in exchange for the cost of art supplies for the project. He was given freedom to paint whatever subject he wanted in a portion of the Old Main building located in the center of the campus. Since this mural painting took place two years after his apprenticeship under Diego Rivera, DeGrazia chose to paint a politically based mural. The mural was titled, “Power of the Press.” DeGrazia was rebelling against commercialism in education. He felt that universities were growing too political, greedy and corporate minded. DeGrazia’s mural depicted the lives lost in World War II and how the interests of businesses were what really controlled the educational system- not the educator.

By the late forties, the city of Tucson began encroaching on DeGrazia’s gallery. He felt cramped with so many people moving to Tucson and he wanted to escape its growth. In 1949, he bought 10 acres of land in the Santa Catalina Foothills, north of Tucson. Once DeGrazia had his new home, he was free to start work on his dream gallery, the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun. During this time, the gallery replaced the first DeGrazia gallery constructed in 1944.

From 1960 to the mid-1970s DeGrazia became very successful and the gallery flourished with hundreds of thousands of yearly visitors. To protest inheritance taxes on works of art, DeGrazia hauled about 100 of his paintings on horseback into the Superstition Mountains near Phoenix and set them ablaze in 1976. This infamous event was reported in such publications as, “The Wall Street Journal” and “People Magazine”, becoming part of DeGrazia’s legend before his death in 1982. By this time, the artist had established the DeGrazia Foundation to ensure the permanent preservation of his art and architecture for future generations.

Eggplant Meat-less Balls

This version of traditional meatballs, made with eggplant rather than meat, is a typical Calabrian appetizer and is quite easy to prepare.

Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb eggplant
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1 ¾ oz Pecorino cheese, grated
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chives
  • Tomato Sauce, optional

Directions

Peel the eggplants, cut them in half, put them into a pot and cover with water.

Bring the water to a boil and cook for about 45 minutes; drain and cool.

Mix the bread crumbs with the chopped garlic, parsley, basil, grated cheese and salt.

Squeeze out the eggplants and mash them with the bread crumb mixture and the whole egg, mixing until thoroughly combined.

Shape  this mixture into elongated, fairly flat ovals and fry them in vegetable oil. Drain.

These may be served hot or cold and, if desired, covered with a spicy tomato sauce.

 

Artist Georgia O’Keeffe was of Italian descent. Her mother was Ida Totto and the artist was named for her maternal grandfather, Giorgio Totto, who was born in Italy. Georgia O’Keeffe was born on a wheat farm near Sun Prairie, WI, on Nov. 15, 1887.

Soon after 1918, O’Keeffe began working in oil, a shift away from having worked primarily in watercolor in the earlier years. By the mid-1920s, she began making large-scale paintings of natural forms at close range, as if seen through a magnifying lens. In 1924 she painted her first large-scale flower painting, Petunia, No. 2, which was first exhibited in 1925. She also completed a significant body of paintings of New York buildings, such as City Night and New York—Night, 1926 and Radiator Bldg—Night, New York, 1927.

By 1929, O’Keeffe acted on her increasing need to find a new source of inspiration for her work. Between 1929 and 1949, O’Keeffe spent part of nearly every year working in New Mexico. She collected rocks and bones from the desert floor and made them and the distinctive architectural and landscape forms of the area subjects in her work. O’Keeffe became increasingly frail in her late 90s and moved to Santa Fe in 1984, where she died on March 6, 1986 at the age of 98.

As an interpreter and manipulator of natural forms, as a strong colorist and as the depictor of her beloved New Mexico landscape, Georgia O’Keefe left her mark on the history of American art and made it possible for other women to explore a new gamut of symbolic imagery.

Petunia, No. 2


The city of Florence showing the Uffizi (top left), followed by the Pitti Palace, a sunset view of the city and the Fontana del Nettuno in the Piazza della Signoria

Florence is above all – a city of art. It is the birthplace of many famous people such as Dante, Boccaccio, Machiavelli and Galileo Galilei. Artists like Botticelli , Michelangelo and Donatello made Florence one of the artistic capitals in the world.

It was during the reign of Julius Caesar that Florence came into existence. In the year 59 B.C. he established a colony along the narrowest stretch of the Arno, which is the point where the famous Ponte Vecchio crosses the Arno. After conquering the Etruscans during the third century A.D., the Romans established Florence as an important trading center.

In the fifth century, the Roman Empire crumbled after invasions from northern European conquerors. The “Dark Ages” had begun and Italian unity was lost for nearly 1400 years. After these hard times, Charlemagne’s army crushed the last of the foreign kings of Italy. However, this reprieve was short-lived. In giving thanks, Pope Leo III gave Charlemagne the title of Holy Roman Emperor to secure his loyalty.

Most of Italy came under the rule of Charlemagne and this led to future conflicts between the Emperor and the Pope that eventually led to civil war. The population of Florence became divided over their loyalty between the two factions: Guelf, those who supported the Emperor, and Ghibelline, those who supported the Pope. Over the following centuries, control of Florence changed hands many times between these two groups and families built towers to provide protection from their enemies within the city. At the end of the 13th. century, with the Guelfs in control, the conflict came to an end.

Despite this turbulent history, the region and Florence enjoyed a booming economy. At the end of the 14th. century, led by members of the wealthy merchant class, Florence became a gathering center for artists and intellectuals that eventually led to the birth of the Renaissance. During this period, the Medici family rose to power and fostered the development of art, music and poetry, turning Florence into Italy’s cultural capital. Their dynasty lasted nearly 300 years. Cosimo de’ Medici was a successful banker, who endowed religious institutions with artworks. He generously supported the arts, commissioning the building of great cathedrals and commissioning the best artists of the age to decorate them. Many artists, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Correggio, trained and completed some earlier work in Florence. One painting in particular done by Leonardo da Vinci captures the Renaissance essence of the 16th century: The Last SupperThe last of the Medici family, Anna Maria who died in 1743, bequeathed all the Medici property to the city.

The Food of Florence

Florentines call their cuisine il mangiare fiorentino—“Florentine eating”— and la cucina fiorentina, meaning both “Florentine cooking” and “the Florentine kitchen.” This language emphasizes what is important to them about food—its eating and cooking—both of which have traditionally taken place in the kitchen – the heart of family life.

Florentine Antipasto

The typical Florentine antipasto consists of crostini, slices of bread with chicken liver paté. The crostini are also served with cured ham and salami. Fettunta is another typical Florentine antipasto: a slice of roasted bread with garlic and Tuscan extra virgin olive oil. Last but not least, cured ham and melon are extremely popular even outside Florence.

Florentine First Courses  

 

Panzanella is a typically summer first course. Panzanella is a salad made of water-soaked and crumbled bread with tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, Tuscan extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and basil. Reboulia, a winter course, is a vegetable soup with bread. Another  famous Florentine soup is Pappa al Pomodoro, a hot soup made of bread and tomatoes. Pappardelle alla lepre (pasta dressed with a hare sauce) and pasta e ceci (pasta with chick-peas) are two Florentine specialties.  

Florentine Second Courses

A main course favorite is the bistecca alla fiorentina ( a grilled T-bone beefsteak ). For a long time, the beef only came from Val di Chiana area steers but nowadays it comes from several Tuscan areas because it is in much demand. 

Since the Florentine cuisine has peasant origins, people use every part of an animal; therefore, entrails are fundamental in the local cuisine and dishes like kidney, tripe and fried cow udder served with tomato are very common, as well as dishes based on wild animals like wild boar, rabbit, pigeon and pheasant.

Florentine Desserts                                                                                                                                               

A typical Tuscan dessert consists of almond biscuits, such as, Cantucci di Prato , that are often served with Vin Santo (a dessert wine). The Schiacciata con l’uva , a bun covered with red grapes is prepared in autumn, during grape harvest. Other Tuscan desserts are: the  Brigidini di Lamporecchio – crisp wafers made of eggs and anise, the Berlingozzo – a ring-shaped cake prepared during Carnival time in Florence – and  Zuppa Inglese, made of savoy biscuits soaked in liqueur.

Many desserts boast medieval origins. One of the most famous is the Panforte, cakes made of almonds, candied fruit, spices and honey, Buccellato, a cake filled with anise and raisins and “confetti di San Jacopo”: little sugar balls filled with an anise seed that have been produced there since the 14th. century.  

Florentine Wines

Florence stands at the heart of one of the most famous wine regions in the world. During the month of May, many Florentine wine producers open their cellars to visitors, who can taste some of the wines from their vineyards. Tuscany is renowned not so much for the quantity but for the quality of its wines. In fact, despite being the third Italian DOC wine-producing region, Tuscany ranks only eighth, as far as the quantity is concerned. Only a small part of the Tuscan territory can be cultivated with vineyards; this is the reason why since the 1970’s Florentine and Tuscan wine producers have decided to aim for quality of their product instead of quantity. Of the 26 Italian DOCG wines, six are produced in Tuscany: the Brunello di Montalcino, the Carmignano, the Chianti, the Chianti Classico, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano and the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

The flower of Tuscan oenology is the red Chianti Classico, which is produced in seven areas with different procedures. The Sangiovese vine is the basis of all Chianti Classico wines; to that, several other species of vines are added in variable quantities. The emblem of the Chianti Classico is the Gallo Nero (the black cock).

The Sangiovese vine is the basis of another Tuscan wine: the Brunello di Montalcino, a red wine produced in the province of Siena. The Brunello, one of the most refined and expensive Italian wines, ages four years in oaken barrels and two more years in its bottle. A third wine, the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, is produced with Sangiovese vines. Like the Brunello, the Vino Nobile comes from the province of Siena. In the late 1980’s, many wine producers began to use different species of vines and procedures to produce a new generation of wines, called super Tuscans. The first representative of this new generation of wines is the Sassicaia, that a branch of the Antinori family began to produce with some cabernet vine shoots coming from Bordeaux, that the family had planted in 1944 in its estate in Bolgheri, on the southern coast of Tuscany. The Antinori family created Tignanello using Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon vines.

At present, wine producers increasingly blend Sangiovese with Cabernet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir and other foreign vines. Tuscany also produces white wines. The most famous Tuscan white wine is the Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Another excellent Tuscan white wine is the Bianco di Pitigliano, which is produced in southern Tuscany.                                                                                                                    

Spaghetti with Peas and Prosciutto

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 lb. Prosciutto, in one piece
  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled
  • 15 sprigs Italian parsley, leaves only
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound fresh peas, shelled or 1 pound “tiny tender” frozen peas
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Italian parsley for garnish

Directions:

Cut prosciutto into small pieces. Finely chop the garlic and coarsely chop the parsley.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over low heat. When the oil is warm, add the prosciutto, garlic and parsley; saute for five minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the peas and the broth. Simmer until the peas are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

To cook the pasta: bring a large pot of water to boil over medium heat. When water comes to full boil, add salt and the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the saucepan with the peas. Mix very well. Cook for one minute more, mixing continuously, while the pasta absorbs some of the sauce. Transfer to a large warmed serving platter and sprinkle with parsley leaves.

Braised Pork Loin                                                                                                                                             

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless pork loin
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 oz. capers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb. plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (or use canned)
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Slice the pork loin three-quarters of the way through lengthwise and flatten slightly with a wooden mallet.

Chop 2 of the cloves of garlic finely, mix with the raisins, pine nuts and capers. Place this mix over the pork and roll the pork into a cylinder. Tie with string.

Brown the remaining garlic in oil, and then remove it. Add the pork roll, brown on all sides, add tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste , cover and cook for 25 min. over a low flame. Add parsley, remove from heat. Let rest a few minutes before cutting into one inch slices.

Zuccotto                                                                                                                                                       

Ingredients:

  • Sponge Cake, recipe below
  • 3 tablespoons liqueur (Grand Marnier, Benedictine, Framboise)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh ricotta
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
  • 1 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

Cut the sponge cake into 1/2 inch thick strips. Spray a 1 1/2-quart bowl lightly with vegetable spray. Line bottom and sides with cake strips, ensuring a tight fit to completely encase the filling. Sprinkle with liqueur and set aside.

Whip cream until it holds soft peaks. Separately, beat ricotta and sugar until smooth, about 3 minutes. Fold together whipped cream and ricotta. Fold in half the nuts.

Pour half the mixture into the cake lined bowl. Make a well in the center large enough to hold the remaining cream mixture.

Thoroughly blend remaining cream mixture with chopped chocolate and cocoa powder, then spoon mixture into the center. Sprinkle remaining nuts on top, cover lightly with plastic wrap and freeze until very firm, at least 6 hours.

Fifteen minutes before serving, remove from freezer and invert onto a plate. Slice into 8 servings.

Sponge Cake Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • A pinch of salt
  • A teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Spray a 10-inch round cake pan with cooking spray and flour bottom of the pan.  Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Separate the yolks and put them in a bowl with the sugar. Beat the mixture until very fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, add a pinch of salt and gently fold them into the beaten yolks. Fold the flour into the batter and pour it into the pan.

Put the cake in the oven, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake the cake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake is dry and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan.  Turn the oven off. Open the oven door and let  the cake cool for one hour in the oven. Turn out onto a wire rack and let rest for an hour before cutting



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Recollections, musings and random thoughts of unsound mind.

Блог красоты и здоровья от LiDea

О себе, о женщинах, об особенностях женского организма, об изменениях, связанных с возрастом. О красоте и здоровье, о том, чтобы сохранить их в условиях дефицита времени. О том, как сделать так, чтобы чувствовать себя королевой, чтобы окружающие видели её в вас.

Life and Life Lessons

discover what's in my heart, let our minds travel and discover, see the world in my head

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Gezeichnetes, Gemaltes, Geschriebenes

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A website about ‘all things nice!’

Karla Sullivan

Progressive old soul wordsmith

STAY AT HOME MOM

Be an observer, and rock your life....

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MODEL ELENA MOLLY MURGU

model elena Molly murgu NYC

Wee Scottish Mum

Easy recipes & meal planning for hungry bellies!

New foody in Switzerland

trying to cook new things

Amazing Tangled Grace

A blog about my spiritual journey in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Chirpy Home

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Fishing Maverick

Gone Fishing

FOOD RECIPES

A variety of recipes that you should try

INFJ PHD

Valuing quiet and solitude in academe.

Food A La Scott

I like to eat a tremendous amount of food and share it with people.

Joy's Food Trips

Food Recipe Ingredients

BRAINCHILD

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mrsloveis

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Taiba's Recipe

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Practically Country

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Easy Healthy Recipes

WE ARE FULL OF FOOD WONDERS

Pleasant Tasting

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redcrosse10999

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Diabetes Diet

The best diet for optimal blood sugar control & health

Pretty Pursuit

A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!

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EnigmaDebunked

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COOKING WITH LUCE

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EVERYDAY EATS WITH TARA

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Memoirs with Hokte

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GOLD RECIPES.

GOLD RECIPES.

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Sharing my take on the simplicity of fashion, lifestyle, travel and more.

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