In Florence the heritage of local tastes has passed into its “trattorie”. A real tavern, in Florence, is a place worth a stop if you wish to savour history.
The etymology of the name hides a close connection with France that, in the city of the lily, dates back to the times when the noble ladies of house Medici married kings on the other side of the Alps to reinforce political and trade bonds.
Thanks to such marriages the French court discovered several true delicacies once unknown (like sorbet, a dish Caterina de’ Medici was very fond of), while close trade connections brought a French influence into Italian.
Our contemporary oste (innkeeper), at those times was called a “traiteur” or better a “trattore”, the man who served genuine meals and beverages at a good price in his own trattoria (as we were saying) in Florence: a place so different from the unsophisticated and ill-famed “bettole” as well as, in later days, from the luxurious restaurants of the upper middle class.
A tavern is based on the tradition of hospitality of a city that has always been an important crossroad of the western world: travellers, traders, artists have been constantly visiting Florence for more than seven hundred years.
And Florence greets them in its own way, with that attitude, somewhat blasé, of someone used to court but at the same time proud to always offer the best it has, “senza lesinare”* (without counting pennies), as a Florentine would say.
It’s easy to understand if you have found a real Florentine tavern (and not a touristic restaurant with “trattoria” written on the sign just to allure potential customers).
The taverns in Florence have simple and traditional furbishing and the owners are in charge of the kitchen and sometimes of the service too: a real “oste” prefers to have a few table less in the room but look in the eyes of their customers, suggest the dishes of the day and personally check that everything is fine.
The menu includes the same genuine and delicious dishes that could easily come out of the kitchen of a local granny after a busy morning spent cooking Sunday lunch for her family. In the age of globalisation it is then possible to rediscover traditional recipes that very few people remember and that are seldom included in the menus of normal restaurants, generally more oriented towards well-known food.
It is not unusual to see occasional visitors turn into loyal customers, often friends: At Trattoria il Pennello, in 45 years of activity, we lived many stories worth telling, which are now part of the memory of our beautiful tavern at the hearth of the historical part of Florence.