15th June 2007
Marito didn’t intend to start teaching art courses straight away. I think he meant to have a little break, maybe a spot of light demolition, angle grinding and mixing concrete. Any spare time would be filled with sun-bathing and personal grooming.
But, as word got out that we were here to start running art courses, people began to express an interest and, one day, he was accosted outside the local farmacia by a small group of ladies. They were, they said, a painting class without a teacher and they insisted on being taught. How could he refuse?
And so it is that they are currently about half way through their first 10 week course, devised to include drawing and painting with some juicy art history thrown in to get them going.
One Tuesday the lovely ladies and marito visited the seminal city of Florence, arguably the most beautiful city in Italy, crowned by Brunelleschi’s wondrous Duomo. Its wealth of Renaissance masterpieces makes it far too much to take in in one day, so he decided to skirt around the Duomo and head instead for one of his personal favourites, the cool, serene cloisters of San Marco. It was here that Fra Angelico created perhaps the most luminous and touching Annunciation in Renaissance art, as well as 50 or so other meditative frescoes for the monks who lived and worked there. The lavish patronage of the Medici founded this monastery but, ironically, it became the seat of power in Florence for the dark, melancholic monk Savonarola. His pious fire-brand preaching opposed the Medici in every way culminating in the colossal ‘Bonfire of the Vanities’ in the great Piazza della Signoria and led, ultimately, to his brutal execution on the very same spot. Powerful stuff!
Of course, all ladies like to lunch, so that pretty much finished off the day.
The Best thing I ate today;
Piccola Torta di Riso
I first came across these shy beauties in a bar in Siena – my radar honed in on a plateful, dusted with icing-sugar, as they jostled for attention amongst the flaky cornettos and oily pizzette on offer for breakfast. It was, as they say, a ‘good call’.
Today is no disappointment, the tender buttery pastry of this tiny tart is filled with sticky ambrosial rice; creamy and scented with oranges. It has the same magical melting moment as Latte Portughese (custard tarts) or Proustian Madeleines and is a worthy partner to this morning’s ‘Cappuccio’.
Two bites and they are gone, so although I do agree with mio bello marito that sometimes ‘less is more’, this is an occasion when one is definitely not enough.
Where to get it;
Caffetteria Stefanini, Citta della Pieve