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Italian bread has many shapes and many names. Different kinds of Italian bread serve different purposes. At an Italian restaurant, you get bread as soon as you sit down. This is a way to “keep you busy" while you wait for the main courses and also to calm your hunger with the most simple dish that you can have. Bread is always available on the table when you eat veggies or meat. Bread in Italy is usually sliced, topped, or filled with delicious ingredients so that you can eat it as street food or pack it for a picnic. All the Italian bread types are so delicious that you want to eat it as it is, as a snack, or whenever you feel hungry. In Italy, you can find lots of Italian bread types in the bakeries, which are called “fornaio,” “forno,” or “panetteria.” Every grocery store has a bakery section as well.
Like everything else in Italy, bread is regional. There are lots of regional breads in Italy. Most of them are so delicious that they have spread all over the country. If you ever visit Italy, you need to enter the bakeries of each town you pass by and ask them what the local bread is. There’s a good chance you will also find a couple of types of bread from other regions.
Let’s have a look at the most popular Italian bread types.
Pane casareccio | Pane toscano
This is the most common bread in Italy and comes in a loaf. It takes different names in different parts of Italy. In Rome it is called pane casareccio, which means “homey bread.” In other areas, it is known as pane toscano, “Tuscan bread.” Italians usually get a half loaf or a whole loaf from the bakery. You can choose from salted, unsalted, whole wheat, durum wheat, cereal bread, and many more. The traditional Italian bread types are the salted and the unsalted Tuscan bread. The pane casareccio is perfect to be dipped in vegetable soups or sliced and topped with cheese and cold cuts.
The main feature of this Italian bread is that the crust is hard and crunchy and the inside is soft and compact. This is why it is also the perfect bread to make the Italian bruschetta! Slice it, top it with cherry tomatoes or other Italian veggies seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and enjoy!
Rosetta or Michetta bread
In Rome, this bread is called Rosetta because its shape resembles a flower. Locals in northern Italy call it Michetta. Italians say that this is the workers’ bread because it’s partly hollow, so ideal to carry other ingredients like ham and cheese or even an omelet.
The so-called “oil bread” is originally from northern Italy, where the harsh weather has always compromised the leavening of the bread and finally pushed the locals to invent a type of bread that defies this setback. This Italian bread is extremely soft and yummy, with a very thin, imperceptible crust. It’s usually cut in half (so soft you can easily open it with your hands) and filled with delicacies like baked ham and stracchino cheese. This is Italian kids’ favorite bread. It comes in several shapes, rounded or elongated, and it’s less than 20 cm long. This bread is hard to resist; if you eat one, you’ll immediately need another.
Piadina is the king of Italian flatbreads. The piadina comes from the Emilia Romagna region and it’s consumed all over the country. At any Italian grocery shop, you’ll find several varieties of the piadina flatbread: whole wheat, spelt, water-and-flour-only piadina, big and small-sized piadina. This bread has become the symbol of the easy but healthy home-prepared meal. So many Italian singles, students, and busy people will keep a pack of piadina available on their sideboard for the times they are too tired to cook. Piadina is also delicious street food. Traditionally, it comes filled with the stracchino cheese, prosciutto ham, and arugula. It is very much like a Mexican tortilla, but made with wheat flour.
Pizza Bianca is a delicious food halfway between bread and pizza. It’s one of the most popular street foods in Rome. In Rome and Lazio, the pizza bianca is the food of those hungry moments that happen halfway through the morning or afternoon. The pizza bianca is sold by weight, but you can have even a small portion of it. You will find this type of bread both in bakeries and at the “Pizza al Taglio” shops.
Grissini Torinesi | Breadsticks
The bread called Grissini was invented in the city of Turin in northern Italy in the 17th century. The story of the grissini tells that the young prince of the Savoy realm had some issues digesting the soft inside of common bread, so the court’s chef thought of a solution, and the grissini was born. These long sticks of toasted, crunchy bread are now totally integrated into the Italian cuisine.
The bread known as freselle or friselle, or frisa pugliese, is an original bread from the Puglia region in southern Italy. This is a bread so crunchy and hard that you need to leave it for a few seconds in water to use it in your recipe. This doesn’t mean the fresella is a stale kind of bread, quite the contrary. This is a bread that is baked twice and can be kept for a long period of time. It’s shaped like a donut because it used to be hung on a cable in houses, waiting to be eaten with a salad of cherry tomatoes and anchovies on top, as the traditional recipe suggests. This Italian bread type can be found in every Italian grocery shop and it’s the perfect culinary souvenir to bring back home from Italy.
Pane di Matera
In the region of Basilicata lies the crusty loaves that are considered to be the best bread in Italy: Matera bread, also known as "Pane di Matera".
Matera bread is so good that it carries the IGP trademark, which means it can only be made in Matera. To add to the appeal, it has been recognized as a regional specialty by Slow Food.
The Puccia is a typical bread from the Puglia region. At the “puccia shop,” you can fill the bread with as many and as different ingredients as you like. Puccia bread is baked in a wood oven. Puccia is a little bit more than a street food; it’s a complete meal. It’s a big panino, you need to hold it with both hands, and it will make you full!
The Pane Carasau is more popular on the island of Sardinia than in other regions of Italy. This is probably the most versatile bread in Italy. Carasau bread is a flatbread that comes as a round, less than one millimeter thick sheet that looks like paper. The bread layer has a diameter of about 40 cm and gets cut into four big triangle-like pieces. It is also called carta musica “musical paper” for the sound it makes when you chew it. The flavor of the carasau bread is neutral. It matches well with everything.
Discover a few of these delicious Italian breads on PinocchiosPantry.com. Their special taste will bring you in Italy!