A gem of Tuscan cuisine, pappa al pomodoro is a delicious dish which is not only very simple to cook, it’s also a perfect way to use up stale bread. Made of only a few simple but high quality ingredients, it is kind of a thick basil, tomato and bread soup. Served cold, it’s a perfect refresher on a hot summer day. Served hot, it warms you on a chilly autumn day. Try our favorite recipe and, to quote Italian singer Rita Pavone, “viva la pappa col pomodoro!”
•500 g old white bread •1 kg tomatoes •1 large onion •4 cloves of garlic •1 big bunch of fresh basil •extra virgin olive oil •salt •pepper •1 pinch of sugar
Peal the onion and the garlic cloves and finely slice everything. Heat olive oil in a large pan, adding the onion first, then the garlic and fry. Add the basil and the sliced tomatoes and boil for 30 minutes. Cut the bread into slices and add it to the tomato sauce. Boil for another 30 minutes until the consistency is like a thick soup. Season with salt, pepper and a bit of sugar. Serve the pappa al pomodoro with olive oil and basil on top.
Situated in the valley “Val d’Orcia”, Pienza is a small town in the province of Siena in southern Tuscany. Since 1996, the “ideal city of the Renaissance” is one of currently 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy. Pienza is located between Montalcino and Montepulciano, surrounded by beautiful landscapes and lovely hills.
Renaissance architecture at its best
Pienza (meaning “the city of Pius”) was named after its most famous son, Enea Silvio Piccolomini who became Pope Pius II in 1458. With the support of architect Bernardo Rossellino, he aimed to transform his home town – back then known as Corsignano – into a masterpiece of Italian Renaissance (“the Utopian city”).
The capital of “cacio”
Strolling through the narrow streets of Pienza, you will discover numerous little shops selling the most famous local product: Pecorino cheese (“cacio”) – made of sheep’s (in Italian “pecora”) milk. If you like cheese, Pienza is definitely your place to be as it is known to be the capital of pecorino cheese. A must eat in Pienza is probably the most famous local dish: “Pici con cacio e pepe” – handmade pasta with pecorino cheese and pepper.
About love and kisses
Pienza is considered to be also a very romatic city: With street names such as “Via dell’Amore” (love) and “Via del Bacio” (kiss), you will find Italy’s most romantic streets in Pienza. However, be aware that it can get quite busy on the streets of love on Valentine’s Day. The streets of love and the kiss are surrounded by “Via della Fortuna” (luck) – with a magnificent panoramic view overlooking the valley – and “Via Buia” (darkness), reminding its visitors that wherever there is light, there is also darkness.
From rolling chesses to flowers and chestnuts
If you happen to be in Pienza in early September, don’t miss the famous “fiera del cacio” – a fair dedicated to pecorino cheese and other typical local products. Great fun is “palio del cacio fuso”, a game in which participants – representing each quarter of the town – roll an entire round of “cacio” around the “fuso” (a wooden spindle centered in the main square). Other highly recommended fairs are “Pienza e i fiori” (flowers) in May, “Festa di Primavera” (spring) in April or May and “La Festa Della Castagna A Pienza” (chestnuts) in November.