Civitavecchia Easter Pizza

Ark of taste
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The Civitavecchia Easter pizza is a traditional sweet from the city of Civitavecchia, and is only made in the brief period that comes before Easter, and is consumed by the following week. It has always been consumed for Easter breakfast along with hard-boiled eggs, salami and coratella with artichokes. It is exchanged like a gift and is used as an alternative to bread during the holidays.

It is cylindrical, 10 cm thick, with a diameter that varies between about 15 and 21 cm (sometimes 24 cm); the upper surface is lightly puffed, and the crust is thin and soft and dark brown. The crumb is lighter in colour, very compact and fine-grained. It normally weighs about 1 kg, but there are also some pizzas that weight 500 grams. Ingredients include: soft wheat flour (‘00’), eggs, sugar, butter, sheep ricotta, cinnamon, aniseed, vanilla, wine or vermouth (at a pinch, rum, alchermes, marsala, sambuca liqueur, etc. can also be used), and yeast. In the past, natural leaven (sourdough) was used; today, brewer’s yeast is also used. Leavening can vary between 12 and 24 hours. Cinnamon, aniseed and sambuca are the ingredients that distinguish Civitavecchia Pizza from other similar pizzas in nearby towns.
It is baked in the oven at 180°-190° for about one hour, in special round baking trays (at one time these were in iron, then in aluminium and/or paper moulds like those for the panettone). There is still a version that includes the addition of small dark chocolate shavings. Tradition dictates that the Pizza be allowed to stand for one week after cooking before it is consumed, in order to enhance its flavour.

Easter Pizza is part of Civitavecchia’s traditions, but there is not much reliable historical data on its origins. The most important testimonies come from notebooks of recipes passed down from mother to daughter and jealously guarded by their families, and have many variants, especially in regards the use of alcoholic ingredients. In the past, the dough was treated by women as a child to cradle: it was placed on a bed and wrapped in woollen blankets. Waiting for the leavening was a ritual; women stayed up the night to watch the leavening of the dough and would warm up the blankets with hot irons in order to keep the temperature constant. The ritual recalls the care given to the natural leavening of bread, but with extra attention, both due to the importance of the event for which it was prepared, and the use of ingredients that were certainly not commonplace. Some local dialect poets from the end of the 19th century or the first half of the 20th mention it in various poems (Cesare De Fazi, Igino Alunni, Ugo Marzi, Claudio Arciprete).

The pizza is sold at a few artisan bakeries and pastry shops in Civitavecchia, but the true Easter pizza is home-made. For some time, there has been increasingly less time devoted to continuing this tradition, threatened by other types of similar sweets sold in other nearby towns.

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Production area:Civitavecchia City, province of Rome

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Cakes, pastries and sweets

Nominated by:Giorgio Corati