He may sound like an unlockable character in your favorite Mario Kart game, but for the Italians, "Dario" conjures up images of a meat rock star. A butcher for the past 35 years, Dario Cecchini runs a small meat shop in a tucked away Tuscan villa---but "quaint" it ain't. The shop's several-square-footage of customer space bustled endlessly during our afternoon visit last week, with at least three separate tour groups jostling one another to get videos of the celebrity meatsman. Dario was kind enough to serve us (or perhaps "gorge us" with) a meal that we won't soon be forgetting---featuring everything from the best meat loaf you've ever tasted to Tuscan "sushi"---which is another way of saying finely-seasoned raw cow. Dario's philosophy revolves around a "good life" and an "honorable death" for the bovines who eventually make their way to his menu---and the care that goes into every step of his process can be felt (and tasted) all throughout the shop.
With a personality as large as Dario's, I couldn't not do my best to capture him in my sketchbook. Below are some sketches from our trip (including our excellent tour guide, who was fluent in pirate jokes as well as Italian), and above is a more finished painting of Dario from the bus ride home.
Some sketches of Dario in action.
Pirate jokes and Italian cuisine history lessons on the bus ride to Dario's.
What I imagined an authentic Italian butcher looked like---before meeting Dario.