Sigeric the Serious: Via Francigena, Burgenove, Circa 990 AD

Nowadays one the most popular dish associated with Italian cuisine is arguably pizza. However, there is much more to the world of Italian cooking. In fact, the culinary history of Italy starts more than 2000 years ago during the Roman Empire as shown in Apicius, a collection of Roman recipes which dates back to the first century B.C.

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Apicius: De re coquinaria (On the Subject of Cooking), 1709

Abbadia  a Isola, anciently Borgonuovo, is a quiet town of just under 150 inhabitants, seemingly frozen in time, built around the Cistercian Abbey of St. Salvatore. The local restaurant Futura Osteria cultivates Tuscan culinary traditions with a typical 10-course menu, starting with: (1) Aperitivo , a bubbly beverage or other alcohol to begin the meal, followed by (2) the Antipasto  (a starter) composed of meats, cheese and bread. Then comes (3) the Primo (first course), usually starchier, and (4) the Secondo  (second course) composed of some type of roasted or grilled meat depending on the region. Followed by (5) the Contorno (vegetables) and (6) the Insalata , if there were not too many leafy greens in the contorno. And finally (7) Formaggio e Frutta (cheese/fruits), followed by (8) the Dolce  (dessert!), (9) Caffe and (10) Digestivo.

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Pecorino, raw sheep’s milk cheese from the Tuscan region, made by hand

According to historians, the Romanesque Abbey of St. Salvatore at Abbadia a Isola was build 5 to 10 years after Sigeric’s visit. In fact, it is the widow of Ildebrando dei Lombardo, Lord of the Staggia, who founded a family monastery on the site in 1001. The abbey was built on the edge of a swampy area located at the crossroads between the counties of Florence, Fiesole, Siena and Volterra. During the 11th century, the abbey continued to expand, strengthening its control over the territory and the Via Francigena, offering assistance to pilgrims.

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Entrance of church, Abbey of St. Salvatore

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