Monday, May 30, 2016

Perugia: Galleria Nazionale & Ristorante La Taverna

The capital of Umbria, Perugia is a spectacular hilltop town with a compact historic centre and rambling maze of charming medieval streets, exceptional museums and unique archeological treasures. Overlooking the verdant Tiber Valley, the city was originally founded by the Etruscans, but walking through the city one also feels the strong imprint of Roman, Medieval and Renaissance influences, testimony to the historical, artistic and cultural wealth of Perugia's unique rich and colourful past. At the centre of Perugia is Piazza IV Novembre, considered one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. Surrounded by the Palazzo dei Priori and the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, the heart of Piazza IV Novembre is actually Fontana Maggiore, a beautiful medieval fountain that was built in the 12th century, which brought water to the town from Mount Pacciano through an extensive aqueduct, an astounding feat of its time. The fountain is composed of two marble polygonal basins, representing biblical, secular and mythological motifs, and one of the best examples of Gothic art found anywhere in Italy. 

On the other side of the square is the Palazzo dei Priori, which houses the National Gallery of Umbria, the most richest and most important art collections in Umbria, including masterpieces from the Middle Ages and Renaissance with works by Arnolfo di Cambio, Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, Duccio di Boninsegna, Gentile da Fabriano, Beato Angelico, and Piero della Francesca, with considerable amount of space dedicated to Umbrian artists Benedetto Bonfigli, Bartolomeo Caporali, Fiorenzo di Lorenzo and especially renowned paintings by local favourite Perugino, who famously taught Raphael.

Fontana Maggiore in the centre of Perugia's Piazza IV Novembre

Detail from the sculpture of Perugino in Giardini Carducci

The grand portal of the Palazzo die Priori is surmounted by the city's symbols: the griffin of Perugia and the Imperial Guelf lion both cast in bronze

The grand entrance to the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria and and Sala dei Notari
housed in Perugia's Palazzo dei Priori

Pinturicchio's Virgin and Child with St John 

Altarpiece by Beato Angelico, 1447

Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist, Peter, Jerome, and Paul by Benozzo Gozzoli, 1456

Polyptych of the Madonna and Child with Saints Anthony, John the Baptist, Francis and Elizabeth by Piero della Francesca, 1470

Fra Angelico Descent from the Cross, 1435

Detail from Gentile da Fabriano's Madonna in trono col Bambino e angeli musicanti, 1405

Perugino's The Adoration of the Magi, painted 1476

Emerging from a a full morning feasting on the artistic and cultural treasures of the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria, we felt it was time to nurture our other senses and made our way to La Taverna, an elegant restaurant nestled in the Medieval cellars of Count Zeffirino Faina, which date back to 1400. Claudio Brugalossi, the charismatic owner and chef of Ristorante La Taverna, welcomed us as we arrived for lunch, upon which we were escorted to a lovely corner table in La Taverna's dramatic vaulted dining room, detailed with modern artwork — a sharp and effective contrast to the restaurant's historic ambiance. Considered one of the best restaurants in Perugia, chef Brugalossi's menu features typical Umbrian and Perugian cuisine, with all of the pasta, breads and gelato made in house each day. Starting with a bottle of Castello di Magione Monterone Grechetto, a delicious white wine from Umbria, we settled in for a leisurely two hour lunch, beginning with a Fava Bean and Artichoke Soup, and Cappelletti in Brodo di Cappone — a dish we fell in love with when we had travelled to Emilia Romagna. As entrées, we each selected dishes from the sea: a spectacular Tempura di Gamberi e Verdura, towering Filetto di Baccala con prugne, uvetta e pinoli, and handsome Grigliata Mista di Pesce Fresco. With a simple macchiato as our dolce, we were drawn back to Piazza IV November where a GoTechno concert was taking place, featuring musicians Matisa, Fabio Branco and Lorenzo GMT. From Medieval and Renaissance art and architecture to the energy and pulse of a vibrant summer concert, Perugia is a city that straddles centuries but is alive with a young and joyous heart. 

La Taverna is an elegant restaurant nestled in the Medieval vaulted cellars of Count Zeffirino Faina 

La Taverna Ristorante menu

Castello di Magione Monterone Grechetto, a brilliant gold wine with a nose rich with apples, pears, apricots, and bright honeysuckle

Fresh baked bread

Chef Claudio Brugalossi came by the table to welcome us to his restaurant and took the time to chat about life, love and Italian politics!

Zuppa di Fave e Carciofi all'Extra Vergine di Frantoio

Cappelletti in Brodo di Cappone

Tempura di Gamberi e Verdura

Filetto di Baccala con Prugne, Uvetta e Pinoli

Grigliata Mista di Pesce Fresco

An elegantly presented Macchiato 

After lunch, we discovered a concert taking place in Piazza IV Novembre with a a musical lineup featuring Matisa, Fabio Branco and Lorenzo GMT

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