The epitome of a restaurant.
Gran Baguttin is a new chapter of a somewhat bizarre story that began in 1926. Journalists and writers in the twentieth century called it il ristorante più ristorante (the epitome of a restaurant), but it is so much more than that. It is a theatre, museum and exhibition space that feels like home, where conviviality and fine-dining culture are celebrated every day.
1926: Italy's first literary prize is born.
What might 11 somewhat inebriated intellectuals be doing sitting together at the same table? Perhaps establishing the first Italian literary competition, of course. All jokes aside, the Bagutta Prize was the creation of a group of friends who had had a little too much to drink. Of the 11 judges, only one was a non-drinker.
The history of twentieth-century literature was written here, on a napkin.
The group of friends were so fond of their gatherings at the restaurant that they decided to fine whoever was absent. It was Orio Vergani who exclaimed, "I will pay a fine, but why not give the money to the author of the book we like best?" Everyone then took out 100 liras each, and amidst half-empty wine glasses, the rules of the prize were drawn up on the back of a napkin.
Paying in art.
Dinner in exchange for a work of art. Back then, the place was frequented by so many artists that they often preferred to settle the bill with their pieces of art rather than money.
A legacy of great significance.
It would be difficult to recreate the stories of a century ago today, but Bagutta's legacy lives on in the Gran Baguttin, which keeps the original philosophy alive by offering the city a place where the art of eating well is intwined with local culture.