Among the rural traditions of my village, Cercemaggiore, the feast of San Martino on November 11th is of great importance: the sowing, a crucial moment for the survival of the entire rural community, has been completed and therefore there is a desire for celebration in the whole village.

The traditional cuisine of St. Martin's day follows some precise rules. First of all, the previous day we make the “Pizza di San Martino”, a sweet pie enriched with nuts which, out of devotion to the Saint who shared his cloak with the beggars, will be divided into pieces to be distributed to relatives and neighbors. On the day of San Martino, for lunch, it is tradition to make cavatelli with rooster sauce. Finally, the new wine will accompany the meal, which will end with chestnuts roasted on hot coals in their special pan.
Just like today, chestnuts had to be bought because in the countryside of Cercemaggiore there are no chestnut trees; this was the typical purchase made in the form of barter: you brought a bag of “Granoni”- corn - to the shop and you received half a bag of chestnuts in exchange.


Let’s make the Pizza di San Martino together!

There are many recipes of the San Martino sweet Pizza that vary from family to family. I used Lucia's recipe: she is a friend and hers is a family of Millers from Cercemaggiore. Her son Michelangelo and her daughter-in-law Marisa now take care of the Di Niro Mill, following ancient traditions.

This year, mine was an experience to rediscover these great traditions, from the grinding of flour to the making of a typical dessert like the San Martino Pizza.


What you will need:

First, warm the milk and melt the butter separately.
Mix the eggs with the sugar with a hand whisk, add the salt, and the lemon peel.
Add the ammonia to the just warmed milk and pour it into the egg mixture, give it a mix and slowly add the butter and yeast while you keep mixing the ingredients.
Finally, weigh approximately 500g of flour to which you can add the walnuts. I chopped mine by hand to keep a quite grainy consistency. Slowly pour the flour into the mixture and add more if necessary: you should obtain a quite dry dough that you can knead on a pastry board with your hands, easy to manage but still soft to the touch.

Roll out the dough to a pizza base of more or less 2 cm thick, and place it in a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
With a knife, lightly cut the surface of the cake creating as many square portions as you wish.
Traditionally, the cake was decorated with the end of a key or a thimble which was covered in flour to prevent sticking and then used to “print” on the dough.

pizza di san martino

Bake the Pizza di San Martino in the static oven at 200 degrees until it is golden and well cooked.

For a more modern version, you can add some sweet liqueur or vanilla flavoring. I would also add chopped dark chocolate or even raisins...Basically, you can follow your instinct or simply be inspired by what you have in your pantry to make this traditional recipe completely yours!


One Day, so many proverbs: do you know them all?

November 11th inspired so many proverbs... Days are getting shorter (hence the proverb “A San Martino pranzi e ceni” - "On San Martino you have both lunch and dinner in one”) and the cold begins to be felt more and more (“A San Martino la neve sulle spine” - “On San Martino, there’s snow on the thorns": the first snow starts to settle on the bushes), but in the cellar something great has happened (“A San Martino ogni mosto è vino” - "On San Martino every must is wine"): the must was fermented and is now wine, ready to be enjoyed at the table of the San Martino celebration!