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pane di Terni

the loaf of controversy

The bread of Terni, capital of southern Umbria, is popular not only through the region but also across central Italy (where it is called pane toscano) and especially in Rome. Designated PAT, it is one of several 'bland' breads (pane sciocco) in Central Italy, characterized by its lack of salt but sour dough mix and three slow rises. You might also see pane Strettura or Montebibico, Stroncone, or Lugnola made around Umbria that are all pretty much the same thing.

Terni used to be part of the Papal States, and the story goes that the Ternani stopped putting salt in as a protest when the hated popes imposed a salt tax. Others say the locals had to ration the amount of salt they used because landlocked Umbria was far from the sea, and needed all the salt they could get for their salumeria and cheeses.

Historians say all of that's just a fairy tale. It is interesting that the zone were pane di Terni is most popular is roughly coterminous with the heartland of the ancient Etruscans. The truth is that most Central Italian just like it that way.

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Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by bellitaly