Bibe al ponte dell’Asse

Bibe,ospite lieve,
La bruna tua reginetta di Saba
Mesce sorrisi e Rufina di quattordici gradi.
Si vede in basso rilucere la terra
Fra gli aceri radi
E un bimbo curva la canna
Sul gomito della Greve

Eugenio Montale, 1937


Snow in Florence has become a rare event; many years ago, however, it snowed quite often, as in this painting which depicts the house where the restaurant is well covered in snow, on one of the occasions it snowed in the sixties.
Among the many stories told about this old Florentine restaurant, it was remarked that for the painter Annigoni there was nothing more wonderful than to walk to the restaurant under heavy snow!
And there are plenty of such anecdotes to tell; Trattoria Bibe is one of the oldest restaurants in Florence, and perhaps the only one that has belonged to the same family for over 150 years.
It was a distant relative of ours who set up this business at the beginning of the nineteenth century. It is said that, after having been to Russia to fight with Napoleon, he managed to come back to Tuscany by a real miracle. Here he took up once again his old job as innkeeper, a job which he passed on to his children and grandchildren, right up to the time when our own grandfather became head of the business at the beginning of the twentieth century, and made it famous.
Our grandfather had a rather special and not unobtrusive name: Paradiso (Paradise); perhaps that is why everyone called him "Bibe", which means: "drink" in Latin; he was an innkeeper who knew how to win the affection of his customers; so much so that Eugenio Montale, a very famous Italian poet, fascinated by this character and the place wrote a poem about him:
"Bibe al ponte all'Asse" (Bibe on the Asse Bridge) published in the collection "Le Occasioni" in 1937.
Bibe the gentle innkeeper had a daughter: "a dark-haired little queen of Sheba who serves 14 degree Rufina", the little queen's hair, unfortunately, left us on december 2010.

After grandfather, our mother and now we, her children, together with her, try to keep up the tradition of the place; more than a whole generation of people have celebrated christenings, communions, weddings and birthdays here. Between a dish of fried chicken and a plate of small fish from the river Greve, we have witnessed engagements and fights, pleasure and pain!

Nowadays there are no longer any little fish, but the chicken is still there, as well as grilled meat, pappardelle (a kind of pasta) and the soups, the excellent Tuscan cold meats and delicious desserts.
Many customers tell us that it is a piece of heaven. To us as well, who are used to it, it often seems like a place of great privilege.
Come to visit us in spring, when the air is warm and inviting and makes you want to sit out in the garden to enjoy the first days of sunshine, or in autumn, when the first cold weather makes us open the dining rooms to enjoy a really cosy atmosphere, or in summer to enjoy the shade of our very old lime trees, far from the heat of the city. Come when you like: but not on Wednesday or Thursday lunchtime: these are our days of rest, nor in February or November, when we are on holiday.
We look forward to seeing you!