On 10 February 1394 in Florence, a resolution of the Republic established that the Councillors of Mercanzia (Merchandise), the University of Merchants, the Proconsul and Consuls of all Craftsmen should offer “torchiettos de cera” (a sort of wax formed with the union of four long candles) every year, in perpetuity, for the feast of San Lorenzo on 10 August.

Coat of arms of the Art of Bakers in Florence

The members of the Craftsmen of Bakers of Florence (before the end of the 16th century, the pasta-makers were part of the bakers’ and bread-makers’ corporation, as they also made pasta) would go to make the ritual offer to the church of Orsanmichele, where we can still admire a fresco depicting San Lorenzo painted on a pillar with the symbol of Art on it (white star with eight points over a red background, see image to the side).

However, the most important religious festival was celebrated in the Laurentian basilica and in the district of San Lorenzo[1] where many bakers carried out their activities, who for the occasion would decorate their workshops with bread baked into imaginative forms and with “lasagna”, which was then eaten during the holiday[2].

Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence

It was “a kind of wheat pasta, thin, and in the form of a wide strip or ribbon, slightly rippled on one side, which was mostly used for soup”[3].

Pappardella di San Lorenzo

Pappardella di San Lorenzo as it is produced at Pastificio Fabbri

This is precisely the same particular pasta shape that Pastificio Fabbri has produced with the same die for more than 70 years, called “pappardella” today. In Florence and Chianti, the Pappardella di San Lorenzo is traditionally cooked with a ragout made with hare (called “sulla lepre”), rabbit or wild boar. In the Fabbri family, the feast of San Lorenzo has been celebrated every 10 August for generations and the famous pappardelle are naturally part of the day’s menu.

Notes and references

[1] In the morning the Magistrates would form a procession to give an offering to the church, then attend the Mass in song and in the evening horses would race from Porta San Gallo all the way up to Borgo di San Lorenzo.

[2] Both bread and pasta were then offered to the poorest people, and in the evening slices of watermelon were distributed to everyone.

[3] 5th edition (1863-1923) of the Vocabulario degli Accademici della Crusca, vol.9, pag.94, in L. Artusi, Le feste di Firenze…, Newton Compton, Roma, 2005, p. 248.

L. Artusi, Le feste di Firenze : dalla candelora a Berlingaccio, dal Palio di san Giovanni al calcio fiorentino, dallo scoppio del carro al Calendimaggio, un viaggio pittoresco attraverso i giochi, le festività, le ricorrenze tradizionali di questa bellissima città, Newton Compton, Roma, 2005, 312p.

L. Artusi, Deo Gratias : storia, tradizioni, culti e personaggi delle antiche confraternite fiorentine, Newton Compton, Roma, 1994, 448p.

A. Cocchi, Le chiese di Firenze dal secolo IV al secolo XX: Volume I. Quartiere di San Giovanni, Pellas, Cocchi & Chiti successori, Firenze, 1903, 290p.

L.A. Giamboni, Diario Sacro e Guida Perpetua. Per Visitare le Chiese della Città di Firenze e i Suoi Sobborghi in Tutti Giorni dell’Anno, Nella stampa d’Iacopo Guiducci, Firenze, 1700, 476p. 

S. Serventi e F. Sabban, La pasta. Storia e cultura di un cibo universale, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2004, 515p.