Tuscan bread

by Samuele Sodini

Tuscan bread

The bread of Altopascio and the collective marque of “Pane di Altopascio”.
Altopascio has a particular historical and artistic importance linked to the welcoming of pilgrims who even today pass through. In fact at that point of the Via Francigena (a pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome), particulary awkward because of the two swampy areas of Bientina and Fucecchio, the “Domus Hospitalis Sanctis Jacobi de Altopassu” sprang up erected in the second half of the 11th century.

The historic centre of Altopascio, ringed by walls of which parts including theree gates still survive, corresponds to what should have been the nediaeval hospital which appeared as a real fortress.
The current three piazzas were the three inner courtyards where the various buildings were located which were used by the friars to care for pilgrims, offering them food and lodgings, and baking the famous bread. Even today Altopascio is known as the baker’s town, where they produce a bread famous throughout Italy.

The bread of Altopascio has a rectangular (bozza) or long (filone) shape, a soft consistency inside, and a light gold crust. It is made withoput salt and the weights vary from 500 g. to 2 kg.
It is produced all year round. The bread of Altopascio owes its tradition to the dexterity and axpertise to people who have gained specific experience over time, the original taste as well as the use of water from the local area.
The Lucca Chamber of Commerce owns the Collective Brand “Pane di Altopascio Tradizionale” (traditional bread of Altopascio) a pilot project for the enhancement and safeguarding of typical local products, a means of promoting the development of the local economy.

The registration of Collective Brand was obtained after a long process, to which the municipality of Altopascio first “city of bread” to be recognised in Italy, and  the province of Lucca both contributed.
The Collective Brand “Pane di Altopascio” is an opportunity for bread makers and a resource for consumers , the former if they possess the necessary prerequisites, can safeguard their own production against possible imitations, and profit from any promotional campaigns by the owner of the brand. Consumers can buy a bread with a guaranteed quality of ingredients and production process overall a higher quality than similar products.

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