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Getting Your Daily Bread in Altamura

■ 3 October 2010 by James Martin

pane di altamura dopAltamura, in southern Italy’s Puglia region, gives its name to a special kind of bread called Pane di Altamura DOP. You can find this bread in a few other nearby places in Puglia; it’s made to have a long shelf life—from 7 to 15 days I’ve heard.

forno antico s. chiaraIt’s probably best if you get your Pane di Altamura from the source. You don’t have to get off the tourist track to try it; Altamura is a fine town to visit. There are many interesting churches, all of which were hosting weddings when we were there on a Friday, October the first. There is also a unique local liquor, called “Padre Peppe” which you can get in a small bar near the Duomo called Caffe Ronchi. Outside of town, the quarry De Lucia has some dinosaur footprints. In fact, lots of old things are scattered about in the area, including the cranium and other bones of a hominid from 200-300 thousand years ago.

Antico Forno Santa ChiaraBut back to the bread…

Forno Antico S. Chiara, the “old oven” on via Ambrogio del Giudice 2 in Altamura (Bari Province) in the shadows of the Convento di Santa Clara, is home to an oven and bakery of 1423 that still puts out the characteristic loaves of Pane di Altamura you see in the picture above. It’s a very interesting store inside, where you can get traditional Pugliese focaccia and friselle, as well as some of the traditional pastas of Puglia. Outside there’s a table you can sit at if you feel like polishing off a loaf before you head to your hotel or Masseria.

forno antico, old oven santa chiaraThe folks inside are very happy to show you around and let you take pictures—and are very proud of the oven, shown on the left.

If you are actually looking for a wide variety of goods, including the Pane di Altamura and lots of focaccia and “strudel” stuffed with savory fillings, not to mention lots of biscotti and other sweetly baked things, you might want to head over to the “Panificio del Duomo” near the cathedral. They have it all—including bottles of beer and several tables, so you can make a feast totally from grain and yeast.

So what does this special bread, available no where else in the world and produced with stringent controls cost? A single Euro will get you a 1kg loaf. That’s about $1.30 for a world famous bread that will last weeks without preservatives and is the only DOP bread in Italy.

And once you try it, you’ll probably never want the sticky gooiness of Wonder Bread again. Unless you’re nuts.

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Getting Your Daily Bread in Altamura originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com Oct 03, 2010, © James Martin.

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