No not focaccia, schiacciata! If you have ever traveled to Tuscany, you’ve come across this glorious bread. Whether that was through bearing the lines for the famous All’Antico Vinaio in Florence or perusing one of the amazing Tuscan bakeries, you really cannot avoid this bread while in Tuscany. You’re probably reading this going: so, what is schiacciata?!
What is Schiacciata? (A glutenous explanation)
Before we answer that question, I think it is very important to explain how to pronounce this word (so that we don’t continue on that mispronunciation train…) Schiacciata is pronounced “skiah-cha-ta.’ Remember to place the accent on the first ‘a,’ rather than the last two.
Schiaccata is a ridiculously delicious soft and crispy bread from Tuscany (it can also be found in Umbria as well, Tuscany’s neighbor to the South.) It has not just a few names, but as many as 617 different names. Don’t worry, you don’t need to know them all unless you’re a crazed Italian food history lover like me. One important distinction to make right now is that we are talking about schiacciata all’olio, as schiacciata alla fiorentina alone can refer to a dessert (we’ll get to that later.)
Schiaccata comes from the verb schiacciare, which means to press or flatten. This all comes from the process of making schiacciata. You flatten the dough with your hands, which is what makes it thin and dimple-y.
The dough itself is made of flour, water, salt, and extra virgin olive oil. The savory schiacciata all’olio usually has extra virgin olive oil (olio) drizzled on top, sometimes with rosemary.
If you have ever seen schiacciata all’olio, you understand exactly how it got its name. This bread is pretty flat. No, we aren’t talking California flatbread flat. More like thinner focaccia, which still has enough room for a pillowy, chewy interior.
The Schiacciata Story
To keep it simple, this bread is old. During the Middle Ages, many Tuscan farmers made schiacciata, first as the test batch for regular bread. Since schiacciata doesn’t require a long-leavening process, it was an easy bread to test oven temperature with. Tuscan farmers realized that this bread was perfect for filling or topping with salami, cheese, or veggies, the perfect working lunch that many Tuscans eat on a daily basis today.
Why I Adore Schiacciata all’olio
Savory schiacciata makes the perfect snack, sandwich, or dinner guest. The simplicity of schiacciata is what gives it so much appeal. It is crispy and light and is the best match for any Tuscan meat or cheese.
While living in Florence, I lived off of sandwiches made with schiacciata. For 3 to 4 euro, I could get a large slice of it, cut open and filled with sbriciolona (the softest, melt in your mouth fennel salame) and pecorino toscano, with a generous slathering of artichoke cream. So undeniably good.
Even at home, I’d buy a ton of this bread to have at lunch or dinner. There was nothing like cleaning your bowl of Tuscan ragu with a ripped piece of schiacciata. Surely beats pane toscano (Tuscany’s infamous salt-less bread.)
The Best Panini Shops in Florence Serving Schiacciata
I Maledetti Toscani
A Florentine gem, hidden in plain sight. Just a block away from the bustling Via Cazziouli is Maledetti Toscani, an awesome panini shop where locals venture for a sandwich and rarely has a crazy line.
I suggest sbriciolona or prosciutto toscano with pecorino toscano and crema di carciofi (artichoke cream.)
Hip addition to Florence, SandwiChic is a fun and versatile place to grab a panino in Florence. Their schiacciata is much fluffier and focaccia-like than the usual, but it hits the spot. They have plenty of vegetarian options too.
Whatever you get, just make sure you try their crema di cipolla on your panino. This is a mind-blowingly delicious onion jam that is famous, hailing from Certaldo. This is an ancient town outside of Florence, home to the iconic artist Bocaccio.
A Florentine institution, you sort of have to go to All’Antico Vinaio at least once. They make bountiful panini on crispy schiacciata. Just make sure you grab a snack for the line. This place has a line all day, it is quite insane.
One thing I want to articulate about this post is that it’s a tribute to how much I love (and miss) eating sandwiches with schiacciata on a regular basis (if you haven’t figured that out already.) I will update this post with more bakery-specific resources in the future!