Bakeries in Rome: a little bit of history

Beginning of Roman age people did not have bread, they used to eat a kind of focaccia named “puls” and made with an ancient variety of spelt flour. Spelt in ancient Latin was named Farrus, so the word “farina” is probably coming from this recipe.

Differently from ancient Romans were already experts in the art of making bread and used to eat a recipe named pita.

When ancient Roman and Greek culture met, ancient romans were amazed by the Greek art of making bread and started to make similar recipes. At the beginning bread was just baked in house, and quickly become very popular. Considered by many a fashion trend and criticized by important people of the time, like Catone (the censor) , bread will instead survive and will become popular amongst rich people soon.
When bread starts to be popular amongst rich families too, in each house of rich people the slave chef needed to wear a kind of mask and gloves to protect bread while working. After some years, bread become so popular that expert bakers from Greece came to Rome to teach local baker men to make bread.
Bread in Rome was named differently according to the eating style: nauticus (if baked for sailors), gradilis if made to be eaten while assisting shows at the Colosseum or amphitheatre, ostearius if baked to be eaten with oyesters, durus and sordidus if baked with not quality flours.

It seems to be that numer of bakeries in Rom during Augustus age, were more than 300, all of them managed by greek people. Archaological memories of those from the excavations in Pompeii, where were found burnt bread and complete bakeries with Owens, benches and displays.
After the fall of Roman Empire, trade of bread disappeared, but people carried on baking at home, in the meantime a new religion was spreading with bread and wine as focus of the rite: Christianism.

During feudalism, with a completely new social and economic organization, mills for grinding grains become property of the feudal lord, people could bake their bread in the oven but were forced to pay taxes to the lord.

Around 1000 A.C. with the starting of corporations of the arts and works, the baker come back to be a profession.

Is more than 1000 years that in Rome people love bread and pastries with dried fruit or aromatic herbs, raisins, pinoli, candy skin. Still today one of the most famous pastries, Maritozzo, traditionally baked for wedding parties, is now a must to taste, beloved by Romans.
Most famous bread in Rome is baked in two villages: Genzano and Lariano. Protected with IGP label in 1997 , is done with flour 0, mother yeast for a two steps raising time and covered with a particular whole-wheat flour. Bread comes crunchy and flavoured outside and soft and white inside.

Bread leftovers never are wasted in Rome, after few days, if losing softness is still today used fo traditional simple recipes as bruschetta, bread and beans soup, wet with milk was breakfast dish for kids, mixed with meat for polpette (meatballs).

Here you are the best bakeries in Rome

  • Panella: Via Merulana 54 (Santa Maria Maggiore/Vittorio)
  • Roscioli: Via dei chiavari (Campo de Fiori/Argentina)
  • Antico Forno Urbani: Piazza Costaguti (Jewish Ghetto)
  • Roscioli: Piazza Campo de Fiori (Campo de Fiori/Navona)
  • Panificio Mosca: Via Candia 14 (Prati/Vaticano)
  • Gianfornaio: Via dei gracchi 179 (Prati)
  • Antico Forno ai Serpenti: Via dei serpenti 122 (Monti)