HISTORY OF PIZZA – From Tramonti to the World

The story of the Pizza in Southern Italy begins in Tramonti at the Amalfi Coast – a fact not as well-known as the Pizza itself, which was diffused throughout the world.

The Pizza of Tramonti is an old school of the art of pizza making, which we want to preserve and even spread as it is part of our cultural heritage. Part of this heritage is represented by a historical heritage tomato from 1800 – the Re Fiascone, which was one of the main ingredients – accompanied by mozzarella and basil – on the world-famous Pizza Margherita dedicated to the Queen of Italy in 1889. The original seed slowly disappeared in the 20th century and was close to extinction, after San Marzano Tomato originated from a crossing between Fiascone and another local variety. In the last years, our association started a crowdfunding project to re-discover this special variety and for some years now the Re Fiascone is again cultivated and grown at the Amalfi Coast, saving the local landscape from abandonment and preserving the authenticity of pizza making. Thanks to its history and its special taste, this project is being supported by chefs all over Italy, and in France and New York City which are contributing to the preservation of the landscape terraces and local biodiversity.

It all starts with bread… at the Amalfi Coast

The “history of the pizza” began back in the middle age. The numerous rural ovens of Tramonti were supplying the ships of the Maritime Republic of Amalfi, using a specific technique, whipping the bread and completely dehydrating it. Doing so it was prepared to last for months, representing the ideal food for the long journeys to the sea. In order to bring the ovens to the right temperature, the days before baking this bread a dough consisting of rye, millet and barley flavored with spices and lard was prepared to be consumed freshly baked – and exactly this was the beginning of today’s pizza. By the end of the 15th century, the trade with the city of Napoli started to grow and reinforce thanks to privileges of Ferdinando I di Aragona which he had granted to Tramonti as a reward for their help during the battle against the Angevins in 1480. This led to a spread of the regional products, like cracked bread and the seasoned pan, which would centuries later be known as pizza. This way the origins of pizza arrived at Napoli, where later on pizza would become a particulate and distinctive element of the region as well. By the late 19th and the early 20th century, most households had the wood-burning oven in their house to make this wholemeal wheat bread. It was a tradition or even a rite to do the pizza with the same dough and to add tomatoes, in particular the Fiascone Tomato (an old variety, which was wide spread in the region due to the fertility of the soil) with olive oil, garlic, oregano and lard. In some cases it was also spiced with fresh cheese similar to the first salt, which had the consistency of mozzarella made of the milk of cows which every family possessed at that time. This pizza was cooked before the bread in the oven without brace or flame.

From Tramonti to the World – the “pizzaiolo’s”

This tradition has become a major resource for all the young Tramontani who were forced to emigrate to find work. In 1955, Luigi Giordano from Tramonti exported mozzarella to Northern Italy, establishing the first dairy production of mozzarella in these areas and promoting the birth of pizzerias. First of these was “Marechiaro”, which opened the doors to new possibilities in the 60s and caused a great “exodus” of people from Tramonti towards the north of Italy. The profession of the pizza maker, the “Pizzaiolo”, which can be also seen as the “art of Pizza making”, started to spread.

In the course over the years, the great passion of these people coupled with the unique art of pizza making – different from the Neapolitan school – has allowed the opening of more than 3000 pizzerias and restaurants, spreading the quality of the productions of Tramonti in Italy and the world.

Achievements and recognitions – The Pizza of Tramonti in De.Co.

In the course of globalization, though, familiarity and simple processes tend to outweigh diversity, tradition and taste. Therefore, this cultural heritage of knowledge and art needs to be preserved in order to still guarantee a resource and opportunity for next generations.

In 2010, the municipality of Tramonti successfully achieved the registration as De.Co (“denominazione comunale”) for the “Pizza of Tramonti”, an Italian certificate of authentic historical culture and handcraft. Until today it is the only community in Italy having this acknowledgement, guaranteeing a protection against imitations in front of consumers’ interests and the region’s interests, while at the same time recognizing the traditional and cultural value. The registration as De.Co represents a trustful certificate of authenticity and quality.

..and on top: The heritage tomato variety “Re Fiascone”

To strengthen the uniqueness of the Tramonti Pizza, the ACARBIO association has also succeeded in recovering the ancient tomato “Fiascone”, a relative of the famous San Marzano Tomato, known since the late 19th century as the tomato “King Umberto” (in honor of King Umberto I of Savoy) that was used for the first pizzas but that with the years had gone almost completely lost. Just in 2015, thanks to a project for the recovery of the ancient seeds still guarded by some farmers in the area, ACARBIO has promoted cultivation, production and transformation to launch a sustainable development project and economic benefit for Tramonti and neighboring areas of the Amalfi Coast. In this project a real product of excellence and an old variety of tomatoes under the label “King Fiascone” was created.

Many of the original restaurants and pizzerias in Tramonti have received enthusiastically the recovery of the tomato “Fiascone”, including its great potential in combination with the ancient tradition of Pizza, creating a project that gives growth opportunities to their native land and ultimately further bond with it and to all the quality products it exports, such as the Tramonti Pizza.

For further information about the project „Re Fiascone Tomato” visit our website www.refiascone.it or write us at info@refiascone.it

For more information about the Pizza of Tramonti and support us at the spreading and preservation, we will be happy to receive your questions or comments atinfo@riservabiosferacostiera.org

Acarbio – working to preserve heritage

Living in a cultural and historical rich area, the association ACARBIO is not only working to preserve the local natural biodiversity but old traditions and the human arts as cultural heritage of Tramonti and the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy as well. This actions happen in the context of the efforts to include this area within the network of the Man and Biosphere (MAB) UNESCO Reserves, incentivizing to combine human and natural culture heritage likewise in harmony. This motivates us to align natural projects along with local traditions. Of these, the Pizza di Tramonti (one of the schools of pizza in Italy, like the Napolitano Pizza) boasts of an ancient history. It has seen many skillful pizza handicrafts born on this territory which stayed strongly related to their origins here in Tramonti, despite migration and global distribution. The city of Tramonti has had the peculiarity of making pizza known all over the world.