The medieval town of Città Della Pieve a little in Umbria and a little Tuscan, has many pleasant surprises for the wanderer down its alleys onto and around its squares, into churches, through the market on Saturday. A wonderful completion of the walking tour is to walk down Via Vannucci, dodging the cars coming up the narrow one way road, and finding on the right at number 90, the sign in copper, the nameplate ‘Bruno Coppetta’.
Do not walk past.
We were led there by our partner in Citta Della Pievè, Lorenzo Berna. Being a local, of course he was welcomed with open arms. Yet so were we, the wanderers from afar. As soon as we entered, I felt at home. We were guided up to the far end of the room and granted a place beside the glass cabinet holding the delightful cuts of meat.
An elderly lady was seated on the other side of the room near a door to the kitchen, and a man of uncertain years came over to welcome us. Bruno Coppetta, a full 80 years yet not showing it, a man of presence with alert eyes, searching for perfection in service. Bruno Coppetta, renowned in this town and in the homes of many visitors from around the world, not just for the quality and the sumptuousness of his fare, but for the warm welcome that he and all the staff emanate.
Gradually we garnished the trattoria with its history. Just over 50 years ago, Bruno Coppetta and his wife Santina took over the old trattoria in the town and set about making it a place of great local Italian food and great memories. This is Chianina country, so the many cuts of Chianina beef are at the forefront of the selections in the menu. Each day are selected a full range of Italian fare for the menu of the day. The local vegetables, mushrooms (porcini of course), legumes (try the gobbi artichokes), to complement the home made pasta, and to sit alongside a cut of the beef. Being seated at the meat aisle, I had the opportunity to admire the wonderful Fiorentina cuts of the Chianina steer, filets without peer, and watch the chef tend the meat and prepare it to sear. The kitchen, I looked into, a house of its own, with maybe 12 staff, including the barbeque chef and the pizza oven chef.
In front of the pizza oven, Bruno stood, deftly slicing the prosciutto, while Santina tended to the needs of her Pici in the kitchen. We had arrived early, and over the next hour the restaurant nearly filled on the ground level with apparently about 40 other guests heading upstairs. I was fortunate to have selected the ‘tagliolini’ with fine chopped Chianina veal and slices of porcini, and then to follow it simply with fried ‘gobbi’ artichokes. The local Umbrian red labelled by the host, needed no excuses as it more than met expectations. Yes, the waiters tended our needs with panache and humility, ensuring that our ‘joie de vivre’ was amplified, and the classical gaggle of Italian conversation not disturbed.
A handshake from Bruno, an invite for next time, and a sip of ‘grappa barricata’ (Trentino), completed a most enjoyable lunch, that left us with one certainty, we will return. Find Bruno Coppetta and his team at www.trattoriabrunocoppetta.com or just wander down Via Vannucci and take your luck, but arrive early.
Special People at Special Places.