We may be into the Third Millenium, but some traditions remain. In Frascati, the celebrated wine town in the Alban Hills near Rome, four generations of the Ceralli family have been baking bread for over a century in their unique old-style wood-fired bread oven.
The present generation is committed to continuing the tradition of producing bread, pizza and ciambelle biscuits in the time honoured fashion under the vigilant eye of 95 year old “Nonna Rosanna” who continues to take an active interest in the bakehouse and the family's shop opposite.
The Ceralli bakery is the only remaining traditional forno a legno (wood-fired oven) left in Frascati. The family held out defiantly in the 1950s against the introduction of a law that imposed the transformation of all the wood-fired ovens into electric ovens and eventually won their case. The furnace has a 16 sqm chamber, with a cast iron door. There is no mechanical thermometer. The family know by experience when the oven has reached the right temperature.
The bakehouse is situated in the old part of the town, just round the corner from the Bishop's Palace, La Rocca, and is easily recognizable by the bundles of twigs, gathered from the nearby woods and used exclusively to fire the oven, stacked beside the door.
The main attraction, however, is the indefatigable Nonna Rosanna, who continues to rise every morning at dawn to go to the bakehouse and supervise proceedings. Always ready for a chat, she likes to show off her speciality “Pupazza Frascatana” biscuits, Frascati's most original souvenir, which she claims to have invented.
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