Fàlia is a baked product halfway between bread and pizza. It comes from Priverno, a small town in the Amaseno valley, in the province of Latina. It has an oblong shape. It is not very thick (about 6 centimetres) and has a surface that is characterised by bumps, that are hand cut by the baker along the entire length of it, as if they were “ploughed” grooves. They vary from 1 to 1.5 kilograms in weight. They are between 80 centimetres to a meter long and have a width between 30 and 40 centimetres.
The smell is intense and persistent, it is characterised by fragrant toasted notes. The flavour is unique, a mixture of bread and focaccia enriched with the flavour of extra virgin olive oil.
Traditionally, the fàlia is stuffed with broccoletto spadone, a particularly bitter variety of greens with characteristic elongated leaves. There is another traditional variant made with broccoli and sausages (where the meat and fat used is cut by hand rather than minced) cooked on the grill. Another classic filling is chiacchietegli, a traditional broccoli from this municipality, with a sweetish flavour and purple inflorescences. Alternatively, it can also be paired with cold cuts and cheeses.
The fàlia is prepared in a similar way to bread. The only points where it differs from traditional bread making methods are the presence of extra virgin olive oil on the surface and the cooking temperature, which tends to be lower than that of classic bread. The dough is made with flour, water and yeast: before it is cooked it is brushed with olive oil, so that it makes the crust crispy and keeps the crumb soft. Olive oil is sometimes brushed on the crust after it is cooked.
According to tradition, the origins of the fàlia are attributed to a local lady named Lia, who was famous in her time for the preparation of this baked product which was made with the dough that was left over from making the classic loaves of bread. When visitors asked who had made such a good bread, they were told “lo fa Lia”. Which was then shortened into the current name fàlia.
For many years now, between the end of February and the beginning of March, a historic event has been held in the streets in the centre of Priverno, celebrating the two typical products of the town, the fàlia and the chiacchietegli.
The main factors that jeopardize the conservation of the fàlia, a product still made with the traditional method and with raw materials, are the current commercial models, which favour standardisation, and the still common tendency to use products and procedures that aim at minimising costs. Its preservation is necessary as this product is part of the historical identity of the town, as it is deeply linked to the experience of its inhabitants and their traditions. The promotion of this product and its recognition, even outside of the local area, could represent a useful tool for its conservation. In addition, on the 26th of June, 2020, the association of the producers of fàlia di Priverno was established, an initiative that was proposed by five bakers in the town with the support of the Municipality of Priverno and the Agency for the agricultural development of the Lazio Region (Arsial) with the goal of preserving and enhancing this ancient recipe of the Priverno tradition.