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Dario the Butcher – Panzano, Italy

It was a bright clear sunny Sunday morning in Tuscany as all Sunday mornings in Tuscany seem to be. We were told that we had to go to Panzano to check out the wine festival that is held there every year for all the vineyards in the area to show off their current production.

When we arrived at the festival, after a long walk into the town because we could only park outside of the center due to the abundance of cars already parked. We found it to be a beehive of people drinking, laughing, and thoroughly enjoying themselves.

We quickly purchased two wine glasses at 7 euros each, wrapped them around our necks by the ribbon they were attached to, and proceeded to visit each vineyard’s booth to sample their wines. The rows of booths were endless and at each booth there was an array of food to sample.

At one booth we happened to meet a restaurant owner from Jersey who was traveling Tuscany with his chef in hopes of visiting various restaurants and chefs to gather and share ideas. Being a chef myself, the conversation naturally was all about the food and wine of Tuscany. Then he mentioned Dario. Dario? Who’s Dario? I asked. Then he told me all about the most famous butcher in Italy and possibly the world who’s shop was right in Panzano. He guaranteed it would be the best place we would ever visit in Italy.

It was only a few short blocks from the center of town and the festival. Couldn’t miss it as there was a line to get in. Can you imagine a line to get into a butcher shop? We took our spot in line and waited as a violin was heard playing from inside the shop.

When we finally got into Dario’s butcher shop it was, well….words are tough to describe it. On a table to our right as we walked in was a giant porchetta, the smell of fresh rosemary permeating the air filing my nostrils with a desire to delve right in. Next to the porchetta a bottle of wine with glasses. It was help yourself. A man was playing music on a violin and behind the counter, was a huge man, dressed in a red shirt and singing to the music. There was Dario.

From the song he went into reciting poetry, all in Italian mind you, and chopping away at a giant bistecca as if the poetry was written for his butchering of the meat. His face was one big smile as he greeted everyone who entered his shop.

He waved his hand to all the various cuts under glass then to all the condiments he had on his shelves. Then while cutting another bistecca he broke out into another aria from an opera.

Everybody in the shop applauded. More smiles from Dario as he held a glass of wine up to his “audience”, drank it, and encouraged everybody else to do so.

So entertaining was this man that I had to learn more about him. Which I encourage you to do so as well. Just google Dario the butcher and you’ll make Panzano in the Tuscan hills a stop on your next visit to Italy.


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