Pizza is famous all over the world but few people know that, in addition to the classic Neapolitan one, one of its most widespread variations comes from Tramonti, a small town on the Amalfi Coast also known as the “homeland of pizza chefs” due to the countless pizzerias managed by the people of the North both in Italy and abroad.
The Tramonti pizza differs from the Neapolitan one due to the dough, which involves the use of wholemeal flour with the addition of wild fennel, and for a more prolonged cooking at a temperature of around 300-350 degrees. The result is a highly digestible pizza, crunchier on the outside and soft on the inside. Instead, as a condiment, it favors the use of selected tomatoes, DOP extra virgin olive oil from the Salerno Hills and fiordilatte from the Lattari Mountains. In 2010 the municipality of Tramonti completed the process to assign the De.Co recognition to this product. (municipal name) which offers the consumer a guarantee certificate against imitations.
The history of Tramonti pizza has its roots in the distant Middle Ages, when rusk bread was prepared in the ovens, a type of bread, completely dehydrated thanks to double cooking, which could be preserved for months during the long voyages of Amalfi sailors. To lower the temperature of the ovens, before baking the bread, a panel of rye, germanella, millet and barley flour flavored with spices and lard was prepared. And so from the ritual of toasted bread was born what can be considered in all respects an ancestor of pizza.
With the passage of time the tradition has strengthened. Between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, most families had a wood-fired oven at home and when rusks made from whole wheat flour were prepared, it was a ritual to also make pizza with the same dough. This was seasoned with cherry tomatoes called “sponsilli” or King Umberto tomatoes, olive oil, a little suet or lard, garlic, oregano and salted anchovies.
The first pizzeria born in Tramonti, “La Violetta”, was opened during the Second World War (in 1943) by the brothers Flavio and Candida Coccorullo in an old cellar, which became a sort of shelter and improvised hospital for wounded soldiers. But it was after the Second World War that Tramonti pizza experienced its golden years. In 1953 Luigi Giordano, a cheesemaker from Tramontano, opened the “A’ Marechiaro” pizzeria in Novara, the first in northern Italy. From that moment on, many left Tramonti to seek their fortune as pizza chefs in Northern Italy and abroad. There are currently over two thousand Tramontine pizzerias scattered in every corner of the world.
A festival is also dedicated to pizza, which is held every year in Tramonti on 8 and 9 August, dates that recall the days in which “A Marechiaro” in Novara and “La Violetta” in the municipal area were inaugurated.
Photo © Sebastian Coman