Brødbagning i Syditalien


  • Holger Rasmussen


Bread-stamps, brødstempler, Southern Italy, Syd Italien


The Baking of Bread in Southern Italy.

Scheuermeier (a. a.) lists the following types of baking ovens for Central and Southern Italy: (1) special baking-oven houses, (2) baking ovens built onto the house wall under a shelving roof, or connected to a utility building such as a pig-shed or a well-house, and (3) baking ovens inside the dwelling house, sited either projecting from the house wall or lying entirely within the walls of the room. The ovens described are intended for the private use of ordinary people, and do not include the ovens of professional bakers. In villages in Calabria the author has noted that all three types exist side by side in the same village or rural district. The majority of the ovens are constructed of clay, with only the oven floor of baked brick. The ovens have a circular ground-plan and a domed upper part, though exceptionally barrel-vaulted ovens can be found. They therefore belong to the complex of ovens described by Erixon (a. a.). The ovens stand on a high base, which may be of masonry or built up of planks. Normally the oven base is adapted as a pen for pigs or poultry.

Sartano: baking i private ovens.

Scheuermeier claims that previously every peasant family owned a baking oven, but that the present tendency shows a movement in the direction of communal baking in either privately or publicly owned ovens. The Italian institution of the vicinato involves, inter alia, a sharing of labour also in the baking of bread, the owner of the oven being paid either in kind (a loaf) or by reciprocal services. The author has followed the course of bread baking in a privately owned baking oven of clay in Sartano (Figs. 4-5, 7-10), where both hollow bread, pitta, and ordinary bread, pane, was baked. The fuel used was oak twigs. During the insertion of the loaves the interior of the oven was illuminated by a little fire in an opening in the side of the oven. Before the loaves were inserted the oven was cleaned by means of oven rakes, grastellino or rastrello, and oven swabs, scopulo del forno, a long rod with a wet cloth on the end. For the insertion of the loaves a pusher, pala del forno, was used.

The hollow loaves are baked first, and thereafter the oven is filled with the ordinary bread. A portion of the hollow loaves, after baking, are split horizontally, and the two halves (precene and frecene) are placed to dry either in front of the oven or on the outside of the oven-dome (Fig. 9). The baked bread is stored in the homes on a bread-frame, panera, which is hung from the rafters of the roof (Fig. 10). The hollow loaves hang on a crossbar under the frame.

Matera: cooperation between private household and professionel bakers.

Matera is the chief town in the South Italian country district of Lucania, and has a population of 30.000, of which about 10.000 live in cave-dwellings carved out of the soft chalk which underlies the area (Figs. 11-15). The inhabitants of these sassi sustain an efficient vicinato organisation (cf. Lidia di Rita a. a., p. 149 seq.), but do not own private baking ovens. The population's bread supply is organised in the following way, which the author had opportunity to study during a short visit in 1955: Professional bakers are an old-established phenomenon in the Italian towns, where they can be traced back to the time of the Roman Empire. In the sassi district of Matera there were said to be 14 bakeries, and of these those studied by the author were entirely or partly hollowed out of the rock (Fig. 17). Each bakery is patronised by a group of families, and the women of these families either bring themselves or send by means of the baker's assistants their bread-dough, already formed, to the bakery on a bread tray, tavola (Fig. 16) and wrapped in a cloth. The subsequent course of the bread making takes place in the bakery, and is performed by the baker and his assistants. A charge of 40 lire is made for each loaf baked. The final shaping of the dough is carried out on the table to the right of the oven, and thereafter every single loaf is stamped with the bread-stamp of the individual family. The stamp hangs on the wall in the bakery (Figs. 19, 23-24). While the loaves are being inserted a bright-burning fire is kept alight in front of the mouth of the oven, to provide light inside the oven. Cakes in tins, and a special flat bread with olive oil, focats (Fig. 18), are baked just within the oven mouth, and are completely baked before the oven is shut. At the baking here described rather more than a score of families had their baking done in one operation, each family receiving 2-3 large loaves, which were said to be a week's supply. The finished loaves are either collected by the housewives in person or are delivered by the baker's assistants (Figs. 20-21). The baking tools used are of the same types as those described above under Sartano (Fig. 25). Twigs of macchi are used to heat the oven (Fig. 26).

Bread stamps.

The bread-stamps used, stampe del pane, u marche or u tuimbre, still play an important role in the system of baking here described, though they seem to be in the process of disappearing. By means of the ownership marks on the stamps - normally initials (Fig. 27) - the bread belonging to each family can be kept separate, and as the consistency of the dough and the size of the portions can vary from family to family everyone is interested in receiving her own bread back without risk of confusion. In the cave bakery in Via Purgatorio Vecchio there were still more than 40 bread-stamps which were still in use. A number of stamps which were no longer used were acquired here and at other bakeries for the National Museum in Copenhagen (Figs. 27-32). Some bread-stamps are made of wrought iron (Fig. 28.), but the majority are of wood, most frequently carved, sometimes with geometrical designs carried out with the chisel, sometimes with carved figures that provide an excellent example of the folk-art of Lucania. The bread-stamps, like all other specimens of wood-carving in Matera, are the work of the shepherds who, during their wanderings in the countryside, find suitable material and shape it by methods and into forms hallowed by their traditions (Cf. the literature quoted in note 13).

Holger Rasmussen





Rasmussen, H. (1959). Brødbagning i Syditalien. Kuml, 9(9), 166–194. Hentet fra