Different kinds of bread were produced in Venice at the time of la Serenissima
In Venice starting from the Middle Ages two types of bakers were distinguished: the “pistori”, who kneaded the bread and the “fornai”, who cooked and sold bread.
Both professions were associated with the same guild of arts and crafts and were protected by the competent magistracy.
Not far away from Campo Santi Apostoli there is a stele that reports which penalties and punishments were imposed on those who did not respect the rules. The most frequent ones were related to baking bread illegally and not in a suitable place, as well as selling foreign bread.
Bread was a staple food in the everyday diet. Many kinds were prepared such as: the “buffetto” with the white bread of fine flour, especially in loaves and served during feasts and banquets; the gray bread called “ tritello” was of fine flour mixed with fine semolina or made with coarse semolina for common people;
Other cereals or vegetables, butter or eggs could be used for breads of different quality.
The pan biscotto was special bread of long conservation and very complicated preparation, intended for soldiers and sailors, to be cooked alone in special ovens chosen by the Serenissima.
Like all other types of bread, the rules were very strict and its ingredients, methods and cooking times were controlled. Depending on how long it should be preserved, it could be cooked two or four times, it was also aged for months, and then dry again in the oven.
Andrea Vicentino’s painting in Sala dello Scrutinio (1587)
Bread was used as a ploy to win a battle in the 9th century against the king of Italy, Pippin, son of Charlemagne. The Venetian soldiers filled their baskets of bread to be catapulted into the enemy camp to make believe that they could withstand their attacks during the siege and that they still had enough food to continue the battle. In this way the Venetians won and Pippin returned to France.