Afternoon tea is one of those fabulous traditions more closely associated with Great Britain than Italy, yet at the Rome Cavilieri they do a gold-plated high tea against a spectacular backdrop: a triptych of Tiepolos.
The three large Renaissance panels by Giambatista Tiepolo were bought by the owner of the Cavilieri at an auction of the contents from the Venetian Palazza Sandi. The Sandi family commissioned Tiepolo back in 1723 and the panels had been hanging in the family home ever since.
Under the hammer at Sotheby’s the triptych – Hercules suffocating Anteo, Ulysses discovering Achilles among the daughters of Lycomedes, and Apollo skinning Marsia – set an auction record for a painting in Italy: 7 million euro. As cultural patrimony they’re considered priceless and recognized as one of only fifty Italian works of art unable to leave the country without approval from the government.
Twenty euro for a proper tea is a steal anyway, but getting a private audience with your own Renaissance masterpieces is priceless. Dressing like the Doge, alas, is optional.