Fresh pastries and bakery, biscuit, confectionary and pastry products;
1. Product name:
Torta salata di Villa Basilica
2. Other names:
3. Short product description:
Torta di Villa Basilica is a savoury rice tart and perhaps the Municipality of Villa Basilica’s most traditional dish. It’s round with an ochre yellow colour and is crowned by raised pastry sides in the shape of triangles (so called “becchi”). The filling is a light yellow colour flecked with rice. The flavour is strong, spicy and salty from the strong cheeses (Parmesan and pecorino romano), as well as the pepper and spices. The base is crunchy, dark yellow and flavourful.
In the Lucca countryside, torta co’ becchi is actually a sweet tart made with vegetables and decorated with the same pastry “becchi”. This product is also similar in preparation to the torta di farro della Garfagnana.
It was originally wrapped in yellow butcher’s paper.
4. Production area:
Municipality of Villa Basilica.
5. Production status:
r disappeared r at risk r active
6. Production process:
To prepare the filling, rice is boiled in salted water for about seven minutes, it’s drained, dressed with a little oil and left to rest for 6-8 hours. It’s then mixed with beaten egg, Parmesan and pecorino romano cheese, the water used to boil the rice, salt, pepper and spices.
For the base: flour is mixed with egg, oil and salt, and kneaded for 15 minutes to get a smooth dough. This is rolled out with a rolling pin and placed in an oiled tray. The filling is poured on top and the sides are shaped into their characteristic “becchi”. It’s baked in a wood-fired or electric oven for about an hour at 180°C.
The freshly baked tart is placed on a grill/rack (originally made with straws) to avoid “rinciotti” or the condensation that makes the tart soggy.
7. Materials, equipment and premises used for production:
Pot to boil the rice, colander to drain the rice, aluminium tray, fork, spoon, knife, grater, kitchen, wood-fired or electric oven.
8. Notes on traditionalism, homogeneity of spread and persistence of production rules over time:
Torta con i becchi dates back to at least the beginning of the 19th century, especially among wealthy families, who would prepare it for important events, family luncheons or summer outings. It was generally eaten at the end of the meal, while today, it’s enjoyed as an antipasto or at the end of lunch, when its texture and strong flavour is much appreciated.
Baked in a wood-fired oven, its method spread through the streets and homes and appealed to everyone because it was a symbol of celebration. Presented on a plate wrapped in a dishtowel, it accompanied groups to the Altopiano delle Pizzorne, especially during the summer or for the Festa di San Bartolomeo.
The Festa di Santa Maria, which falls in the month of August, is the most solemn and heartfelt festival in the municipality and is when every family serves torta coi becchi, tortelli or maccheroni at their table. This religious tradition has melded with a secular one, so that the Sagra della torta coi becchi is also held in August and around the same time as the Festa di Santa Maria. Festivals aside, local families prepare the product for special lunches or Sunday meals as the long and laborious process is different to adapt to modern working lives.
It’s usually found in the bakeries of the municipality of Villa Basilica, especially in August, during which the Mother’s Committee and “Don Francesco Martini” band hold the “Sagra del pane e della torta con i becchi”, which is more than 20 years old. For more than 26 years, the Unione Sportiva Villa Basilica has held the Sagra dei funghi e della polenta fritta on Altopiano delle Pizzorne in the months of July and August and naturally serve torta con i becchi. The last festival to offer this pie is the “Corsa dei Carretti”, which is held in Villa Basilica in June or August. Almost 500kg of the product is produced annually.