In this corner of Apulia, the love for the art of baking bread is so strong that they have a Bread Museum
In Altamura, in the province of Bari, bread is much more than a staple food. It is the pride and joy of the local population, for which the town is famous throughout Italy and beyond. A masterpiece in four ingredients: re-milled durum wheat semolina, water, salt, and natural yeast. All cooked in the essential wood oven. In 2003, the European Union granted the ‘Pane di Altamura‘ (Altamura bread) the PDO status.
Thus, to use this label, it must be produced according to a range of strict conditions. They include using particular varieties of locally produced durum wheat, a certain specification of water, and a consistent production method. Even the thickness of the final crust is accounted for, it has to be at least 3mm thick. The shape of the loaf is not essential, however, there are some traditional shapes.
In town, there is even a Bread Museum. Vito Forte opened it in the medieval shop where he learned the art of baking bread as a young apprentice. Eventually, he became an entrepreneur and now has a company that employs 130 people to produce 60,000kg of bread each day. This creates an annual turnover of 25m Euros. The museum is opposite the Gothic-Romanesque cathedral, near another historical bakery.
The Antico Forno Santa Chiara, which has been burning only oak wood since 1423. Nowadays, it also offers aperitifs that always start with bruschetta.
In another corner of town, Vincenzo Benvenuto, of Caffetteria del Viale, collaborates with local craftsmen of proven organic faith. His famous bread is the expression of his heartfelt passion and a very strict production process. It entails the tender care of his daily refreshed sourdough and a leavening no shorter than 16-18 hours at controlled temperatures.
(Ilona Catani Scarlett)