Castiglion Fiorentino at the dinner table - Traditional Dishes

Settimana Santa, processione

During Etruscan times, Valdichiana was a fertile and luxuriant land. With the advent of the Roman Empire, a barrier was built near Orvieto to prevent the waters of Clanis to pour into the Paglia River, tributary of the Tevere, in order to avoid the numerous floods in the Urbe. Water could no longer drain, and in the Middle Ages Valdichiana had become an unhealthy swamp. Many years passed, until the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo I di Lorena appointed Vittorio Fossombroni, who managed to reclaim all the vale with the “colmate” system. In a few years, the land became arable again; grand-ducal farms and the iconic Leopoldine, home of farmers, were built. In this context, people formed patriarchal families based on agriculture: at the top there were the patriarch and the housewife. The first one was in charge of the financial organization; he managed the work of all the family members and any decision he made was irrefutable. The second one managed the kitchen, the chicken run and the vegetable garden. Daughters were given in marriage, whereas men remained at home and worked with grandsons and nephews in the fields. Only the firstborn son took care of the stable, where the generous Chianina beef cattle was bred. The housewife cooked for all of them, using the available products of agriculture. This is how some typical dishes of our culture, based on the cycle of seasons, were born. In the big kitchen at the centre of the house could not be missing the fireplace, kitchen chest, cauldron, pastry board, pan, pot and an earthenware saucepan; but the housewife’s main tool was the oven, which was often located outside the house, in the cupboard, where she could cook bread, which became the staple food and a symbol of life itself.

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