Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Ancient Iguvium: Gubbio & Taverna del Lupo





Gubbio, founded by the Umbri, is a stunning Medieval hilltown in Northern Umbria that holds the famous Eugubine Tablets, seven bronze slabs that survived from the ancient city of Iguvium. Engraved in the 2nd century BC, the tablets were discovered by a farmer in 1444 who later sold them for two years of grazing rights, having no idea of how valuable they'd be to historians. The tablets are written in the local language of the time, the only documents of this ancient culture which has come down to us in a complete state, and underscore the importance of Gubbio as one, if not the most important political and religious centres of ancient Umbria, providing crucial evidence of the life of the region before Roman times. Housed in the impressive Palazza dei Popolo overlooking the Piazza Grande within the walled city of Gubbio, the building is an incredible example of Gothic architecture and holds the astounding Museo and Pinoteca Civico — custodian of the tablets as well as an extraordinary collection of paintings, frescoes, ceramica and artifacts from Gubbio over the centuries. One of the most impressive Museums in Umbria, with the exception of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale dell'Umbria in Perugia, the Pinoteca in the stunning Palazzo dei Consoli defines the skyline of Gubbio, with the views from the upper loggia over the valley a breathtaking sight, especially with a bustling farmer's market in the square below in Piazza 40 Martiri.

Walking back from the market, along Gubbio's steep cobblestone streets, was made all the more inviting knowing that we were about the have one of the best meals during our month in Italy, at Taverna del Lupo. Run by the Mencarelli family, this award winning restaurant set in a series of Medieval dining rooms, is considered to be one of the best restaurants in Umbria, and having been there a few years before, we knew it was going to be a thoroughly delicious experience. Soft light casts flattering shadows across the barrel-vaulted interior of Gubbio's most sophisticated restaurant, with an exceptional menu of classic Umbian dishes, white linen draped tables and polished professional service. Some of the dishes not to be missed are Chef Claudio Ramacci's soft egg with fresh seasonal truffles, homemade tagliatelle and superlatively grilled meats and game. The restaurant also has an excellent wine cellar with over 5000 labels, which make an exceptional meal even better.



The impressive Palazzo dei Consoli was built between 1332 to 1337

The Gothic-style portal of Palazzo die Consoli with 16th-century fresco above the door

Fresco in situ at the foot of the stairs that lead to the Sala d’ Arengo by Guiduccio Palmerucci in 1342, depicts the Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Saint Ubaldus

The original room in the Palazzo where the Eugubian Tablets, a series of seven bronze tablets from ancient Iguvium, have been held since 1444

The tables are written in both the Umbrian and Latin language, and shed light on the grammar of this ancient dead language, and also on the religious practices of the ancient peoples of Italy, including the archaic religion of the Romans

These are the only documents of the ancient religions of Europe and the Mediterranean which have come down to us in an almost complete state

Pinacoteca on the top floor of the Palazzo die Consoli

Madonna col Bambino by Mello da Gubbio, 1360

Maiolica Plate made in Gubbio by Maestro Giorgio Andreoli in 1540

The palace was the first in the city served by a public hydraulic system, 
which fed this fountain which can still be found in the main salon of the Palazzo

Running water also made this loo a working indoor toilet in the 1300s

Gubbio's Farmer's Market every Tuesday in Piazza 40 Martiri

Walking down to the market through Gubbio's warren of winding lanes

Gubbio's traditional red and blue ceramics

Fresh flowers and potted plants

Succulent melons from Mantua — so sweet and delicious, we bought two to take home to the villa

Local Gubbio pears

This fellow was hand slicing local prosciutto which was too tempting, 
so we came home with 200 grams for aperitivi

After the market, a walk uphill to Taverna del Lupo

The award winning Taverna del Lupo, set in a series of Medieval dining rooms, 
is considered to be one of the best restaurants in Umbria

Our lovely table within the elegant barrel-vaulted Medieval dining room

Gorgeous antique wooden cabinet with silver candelabra,
stores silverware and linens 

A bottle of house made aqua frizzante

The menu features sophisticated Umbrian cuisine based on traditional Gubbio dishes and recipes

A glass of chilled Prosecco is a fine beginning to our lunch at Taverna del Lupo

Warm homemade bread

An amuse-bouche of local Prosciutto on a crisp fried chickpea crespelle, very similar to the prosciutto and fried gnocchi we had in Bologna a few years ago

Our server opening a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino — a special treat — made with 100% Sangiovese and Italy’s highest DOCG classification, this wine is what most wine critics cite to be the best in all of Italy

Decanted and set on the table, the wine was bold, full of tannins and absolutely luscious

Tulipano di Sfogliatine del Lupo con Funghi, Prosciutto e Tartufo di Gubbio: White Lasagna with Mushrooms, Prosciutto and Gubbio Truffle

Uovo Soffice al Tartufo di Gubbio con Fonduta di Crema di Pecorino: A cloud of Soft Egg with Gubbio Truffle with Pecorino Cream Sauce

Nestled within my fluffy cloud of egg was a lightly poached yolk

Costicine di Agnello alla Griglia: Grilled lamb Chops

Filetto di Maiale al ristretto di sagrantino con cipollotto di Cannara: Pork Loin with Sagrantino Wine sauce and cipollini onions

Patate Arrosto con Rosmarino

Spinaci con aglio, olio e peperoncini

Biscotti and round Tozzetti, sweet Umbrian almond and hazelnut biscuits

Small glass of Vin Santo

Macchiato