Some 350 varieties of bread originate from Italy, from crusty loaves to unleavened flat breads and the crispy breadstick. Tuck into five of the best as chosen by Italia!
Of all the breads, this ancient Ligurian bread with a mottled appearance, is popular all over the world. Oven baked, its name comes from the Latin focus, meaning ‘hearth’, as it was cooked in the embers of the hearth in ancient Roman times.
It is made using a dough similar to that of pizza, with strong flour, water, olive oil, salt, sugar and yeast. Rolled out thickly, the baker then dents the suface of the loaf to stop the bread bubbling during cooking. The focaccia is coated in olive oil, which helps the bread to retain its moisture, before being baked in the oven. Focaccia is versatile and is often topped and enhanced with a variety of different ingredients, such as herbs and onion.
In Recco, they make an unusual version of the bread, the focaccia al formaggio, which is made with Stracchino cheese. The cheese filling is placed between two layers of the dough before being cooked. A sweet version of focaccia, the focaccia dolce, made with honey, sugar or fruit, is a popular delicacy in some regions of Italy.
Ciabatta means ‘slipper’, and this flat white bread with a porous centre is so named because of its slightly slipper-like shape. Made with wheatflour, yeast and water, it has a crispy crust and although its origins are unclear, one version of its history suggests the bread was developed by an entrepreneur outside Rovigo in the 1980s.
3. Coppia Ferrarese
This twisted sourdough from Ferrara first appeared in 1536, when Messer Giglio presented the bread at a dinner party in honour of the Duke of Ferrara. Made with flour, lard, olive oil and malt, the bread is moulded into an elaborate shape of a knotted middle with two twisted breadsticks on either side.
This soft, very thin flatbread can be eaten hot or cold and is ideal for filling. The bread is made with flour, lard, salt and water, and is cooked on a flat griddle pan. Hailing from Romagna, the unleavened bread is often sold in piadina kiosks, piadinerie, where it is eaten fresh from the pan, filled with meat or cheese.
A Turinese delicacy, this long, thin, crusty breadstick was first baked in the city in the late 17th century on the orders of the Savoy Duke’s doctor. The medic diagnosed the sickly young Vittorio Amadeo II as having gastroenteritis from eating germ-ridden bread and so instructed the court baker to make a thin bread, baked twice.