Terre del Conero

In this section you will find many interesting facts and insights about our area, its food and traditions. You will also come across many tips about healthy eating, and there are some simple recipes that you can use to enjoy our products.

Bread and its origins


Cereals and legumes have always been the staple food of the Marche, even before the domain of the Papal State, when this territory was suited to the cultivation of wheat. In the past, the geographer Strabone noted the production of wine and wheat in the area of ​​Conero.

When the Marche became "the breadbasket of the Papal State", the minor cereal crops such as barley, millet, oats, rye, and barley were gradually abandoned, surviving only in marginal areas; and corn, which was introduced in the eighteenth century, would reduce them further

In Ancona, the control and management of cereals was assigned to three counsellors called 'Abbondanzieri', who oversaw the collection of grains and flours in the municipal Warehouses ("of the Abundance"), the milling and then the bakery. The ‘Flour Building’, that later became the Palazzo degli Anziani, was the gathering place for the cereals, from where a record was kept of all the incomings and outgoings, thereby guaranteeing necessary stock levels, even at the cost of importing other cereals. The provisions of the law were then designed to ensure that the bakers were never short of bread, with the obligation of maintaining stocks in ‘credentia' or on the shelf.

The people of Ancona preferred homemade bread, which was home-cooked and also cooked at the bakers, who had the duty to accommodate the baking of the bread of others by commission. There were strict rules on tariffs, decided on the basis of the size and number of loaves.

The price lists of the bakeries became more and more complex over time, reaching even to the point of specifically mentioning some different qualities of loaves. One of the types mentioned was "brown bread" meaning in this case a product that is not obtained with the best flour but with a ground that is more or less brown . The color, variously 'gray' was due to the mixing of cereals (with a greater or lesser residual bran). The bread of the peasants and the poor was dark, mixed with a little sifted flour,  enriched often with other ingredients that gave substance and flavor, in some cases even certain herbs with properties to ‘anesthetize’ or at least alleviate hunger. It was the so-called bread of 'compensation', which is packed with substitute ingredients that are more or less noble (coarse grains , beans, chick peas, vetch, chestnuts). In times of famine, every edible resource was used, even the toughest and most disgusting. Moreover, even in ordinary times they drew from animal feed, crafting loaves of sorghum, generally used as fodder, or they even kneaded bread with acorns, a gimmick that seems to have been quite widespread in the areas of Marche.

In fact a doctor from Urbino, Costanzo Felici, wrote late in the 1500s “[The acorn] today still assists in feeding the poor and the needy when they have nothing else better to eat, they make bread out of it, but it is very disgusting to see and to enjoy". Memories from the nineteenth century recall that acorn bread was also found inland in the Ancona area, and still on the threshold of 2000, rural sociologists have found it around the Pesaro area.

However, in the humbler country homes, bread was baked in large quantities to save fuel; once it had become hard during the days, it was eaten by soaking it into soups or milk for breakfast in the morning. If it became dry it transformed into breadcrumbs, this very familiar and particularly recurrent ingredient in country and popular cuisine.

Large trays or long loaves of bread were baked in ovens, sometimes built outside the houses in an external pavilion, or at the village baker’s. The baker would use a sort of stamp in order to recognize the loaves and to identify and recognize the batch of each family. As to the level of sophistication it is well-known that the crumbs were darker for families of a more modest income.

White bread, a pure accompaniment to lavish and sumptuous dishes, was in fact only reserved for the aristocratic classes. White bread was considered the ‘loaf par excellence’ (the lower classes would only consume it if they were seriously ill), and this positive assessment was refelected in the price lists of the bakers of Ancona, who regarded it as being of the finest quality, compared to the less prestigious but equally decent "big bread, good and well cared for," or the "low bread" and the aforementioned "brown bread".

Inevitably the performance of ovens and bakers would veer towards more complex preparation. This would increase the quality and the performance of the shop, because the workers from simple "panfacoli" (bread makers) would became ‘cialdonari', in other words also retailers of biscuits and sweet buns, including the ‘goodies’, referred to in an edict of 1790, like the "Buzzolati" (biscuits called 'donuts with sugar, ‘melazzo’, and cooked grape juice, or even biscuits "with eggs" with aniseed and water), or ‘Genovese cookies', ‘split biscuits’, as well as fresh pastries such as 'maritozzi’ and any other pastry made with yeast’, or «cresciole di tritello», that has survived in the traditions of some villages of Ancona.

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Terre del Conero Agricoltori per Natura, soc. coop. agr. Via Peschiera 30, 60020 Sirolo (AN) P.IVA 02474980428
European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development