Monday, September 25, 2017

Città della Pieve, Perugino & Ristorante da Laura




The quiet walled hilltown of Città della Pieve is famous primarily because it was the birthplace of the great Renaissance painter Pietro Vannuci, known as Perugino, who taught the very young Raphael, and also because it's the home of Colin Firth and his Italian wife Livia Giuggioli. Although we were able to get sightings of some beautiful Perugino's, Colin and Livia proved more elusive. Belonging to the city-state of Chiusi during the Etruscan and Roman periods, Città della Pieve frequently suffered from barbarian invasions. It finally developed as a fortified town around 1000 AD, centred around the Cathedral of Santi Gervasio e Protasio, which is home to two Perugino frescoes. Among the works of art preserved inside the church is the Baptism of Christ, a typical example of Perugino’s later style, with characters who appear quite contemplative with a sweet airy landscapes behind them fading into the horizon. His perspective is much freer than his first master, Piero della Francesca, who was very adept at manipulating the principals of perspective like in his fresco cycle, Legend of the True Cross in Arezzo. Also in the Cathedral is Perugino's 'Madonna in Glory among the Saints Gervasius, Protasius, Peter, and Paul', painted in 1514, which seems more icon-like than narrative. Designed using pure neoclassical symmetry, the pious duo stand between two red banners which depict the emblem of the town held by its two patron Saints. 




Cathedral of Santi Gervasio e Protasio in Città della Pieve, is dedicated to the patron saints of the city and is home to 2 Peruginos

The interior with 'Madonna in Glory among the Saints Gervasius, Protasius, Peter, and Paul', painted by Perugino in 1514

Closeup of the Perugino

'Baptism of Christ'  painted in 1510

Closeup of painting

An olive tree grows outside the church

Once surrounded by a deep moat and wooden fence, La Rocca was built in 1326 to protect the city from Perugia with who they had a troubled relationship for years

Beautiful garden and house adjacent to La Rocca

Quince trees now grow in the interior garden of La Rocca

Exterior of La Rocca with flags supporting the upcoming Palio dei Terzieri, an old festival with competitions among the archers of the different village districts with a parade, and the opening of fourteenth century stalls and taverns to taste delicious local cuisine

Green and blue flags on this charming Medieval street support another neighbourhood of the town

A small street with private homes and apartments



Exploring a different hill town every day, finding a lovely restaurant to enjoy a leisurely lunch is our next priority, so were very happy to discover Ristorante da Laura, a hidden gem on Via Pietro Vannucci in Città della Pieve run by Anita Doshkova, an absolutely charming Bulgarian Italian. Specializing in fish and seafood, homemade pasta and excellent local cuisine, Anita grows many of the herbs and vegetables in her own garden. Starting with a delicious Crostini Misto and outstanding Tartare di Pesce with raw shrimp and avocado, we were thoroughly impressed with this quiet unassuming restaurant and its sensational menu. As a secondi, we ordered the Braised Beef with spinach, and the Grigliata Mista con Gamberoni, Orata, Branzino, Seppie e Tonno, which was outstanding — perfectly cooked and absolutely delicious. With no room for dolce, we were however offered a glass of homemade Limoncello and Bananino from Puglia — not fond of Limoncello, the Crema di Bananino was very good. A very special restaurant in quiet Città della Pieve, Ristorante da Laura is worth making a culinary detour.



Ristorante da Laura in Citta della Pieve

The quiet and exquisitely charming interior of da Laura

The menu features predominantly fabulous fish and seafood

Fresh baked bread

Our table with a bottle of Aqua Frizzante and bread

Half a lite of Gargaenga Biano Fermo white wine

Crostini Misto da Laura

Tartare di Pesce con gamberi crudi e avocado — superb!

Manzo alla Brace con salsa

Grigliata Mista con Gamberoni, Orata, Branzino, Seppie e Tonno

Spinaci

Crema di Bananino from Puglia

Offered an aperitif after our lunch, I declined the Limoncello but was then offered Bananino,
a banana flavoured liquor and absolutely delicious

My husband did choose the homemade limoncello, which was left on the table to pour at will — very dangerous indeed!