November 18, 2021

Almost every culture eats some form of bread in some way, and it is no different in Italy. In fact, there are over 350 types of breads in Italy. Most of these are breads from Italian regions and are specific to that part of the country, so they may not be as universally known.

It’s always difficult to say which of the popular Italian breads is the “best,” but we feel that we have a pretty good idea of what people are searching for at their local bakery.

Breads in Italy

For this, we have chosen our top 20 best Italian breads from the country’s pantry so you know which ones go best with certain meals. Take a peek below (in no particular order) and get inspired to bring some wholesome Italian flavor to your dinner table.

1. Baba Rustico

Baba Rustico is a savory bread that originates from Naples. The dough is filled with all kinds of meats and cheeses before it is cooked, including salami, grated parmesan, and cubes of provolone, fontina, or scamorza.

It is a delicious appetizer and savory snack that is usually served at parties or during celebrations. Before it is cut into slices, Baba Rustico looks a little like a Bundt cake but don’t be fooled by this bread’s appearance – it is not sweet at all and is instead a delicious savory Italian favorite.

2. Brioche Col Tuppo

These adorable little buns look just as amazing as they taste. Brioche col Tuppo is an Italian version of classic brioche that originates from Sicily, but is easily distinguishable by its ‘tuppo’ – the round top bun that is removed and eaten first.

Sometimes, the tuppo is dipped into gelato or the whole brioche itself is cut in half and stuffed with gelato. Either way, this breakfast snack is incredibly sweet and is made using a range of ingredients and flavors.

ou can find this form of brioche available in flavors like lemon, pistachio, or just plain sweet honey. Whichever flavor you choose, this brioche is sure to water your taste buds.

3. Buccellato Di Lucca

This is another sweet bread but this time, it is made with raisins and aniseeds. Buccellato di Lucca is a popular bread shaped like a ring that is a specialty from Lucca in Tuscany. While it started out as a local confectionary for rich church-goers, buccellato di Lucca is now an everyday staple in the region.

This type of bread is rather simple and resembles a bagel, but is still very tasty with a sweet interior filled with raisins and aniseeds. It is also coated in sugar to further sweeten this dessert bread and make it a real treat.

4. Certosino

Certosino is a traditional Christmas classic sweet bread in Italy that originates from Bologna. Rich and dense, Certosino is sometimes known by other names such as panspezial or zrtusein.

It is packed with different ingredients, such as almonds, pine nuts, dark chocolate, honey, and candied fruit. All of these make Certosino an incredibly sweet bread that is sometimes decorated and baked like it is a cake instead of a bread.

It can be a real centerpiece to your Christmas dinner table and could serve as a unique Christmas dessert that will really get your guests talking.

5. Ciabatta

One of Italy’s most famous and well-known breads is Ciabatta. It is an Italian type of white bread that was invented in 1982 by a Veronese miller and baker as a response to the rising popularity of the French baguette.

Ciabatta is popular for its crispy crust and tasty interior filled with little air pockets that make this bread very light and delicious.

Today, ciabatta is often used as a sandwich bread due to its texture and ability to absorb liquids very well. If you have never tried ciabatta – then what are you waiting for?

6. Ciambella

You may be thinking – hey, isn’t ciambella a cake? Well, ciambella is a name for an Italian cake, but it is also the name for a chewy kind of Italian bread. The bread version of ciambella are large rings of bread that is flavored with fennel and is often eaten as a snack between meals.

Once cooked, these distinctive rings of bread should be left for a few days to become chewy, otherwise they will be very crusty and crunchy if eaten fresh out of the oven.

Ciambella is not as well known in its bread form but if you are looking for something different to snack on during your lunch break, then give ciambella a try.

7. Ciriola

Ciriola is a traditional Roman bread that is incredibly recognizable due to its football shape. These small pieces of bread are crunchy on the outside and so soft on the inside.

The reason why the Romans called this bread ‘ciriola’ is because the word ciriola translates to candle in Italian, and this bread roll’s shape resembles the flame of a candle. When it comes to taste and flavor, this bread is rather conventional but it is still delicious and can be served with any kind of meal.

8. Crescentina

Another strangely shaped bread, Crescentina is delicious when eaten on its own or served with soft cheeses and cold cuts of meat. This bread is basically a crunchy puffed bread that has been fried in lard and typically served hot.

Although it can be eaten with savory snacks like cold meat and cheese, this bread is so versatile that it also goes well with chocolate spreads or fruit jellies.

Crescentina is a delicious little snack that can be eaten either sweet or savory, so you can treat yourself to some crescentina at any time of the day.

9. Coppia Ferrarese

This type of bread is one of the most popular types of sourdough in the world! Shaped like a double twisted loaf, giving this bread a long shape, coppia Ferrarese is a traditional bread from the province of Ferrara in Italy.

It is prepared with pork lard and sourdough, giving coppia ferrarese its distinctive flavor that is known all around the globe.

This bread is so favored that it even has a Protected Geographical Indication, which means that at least one of its production steps must take place in the defined area of its origin. So, this means that you know any coppia Ferrarese you purchase is authentic and tastes just the same as it does in Italy itself.

10. Filone

This bread originates from Tuscany but is very similar to the world-famous French baguette. While filone closely resembles a baguette, it is usually flatter and thicker.

However, it still has the crusty outer shell of a baguette and has the soft and tender interior texture. Light and airy, this Italian bread is delicious and goes great with pretty much any kind of meal.

11. Focaccia

Focaccia is a wonderful flatbread that is very similar to a pizza dough base. It is believed that this bread was invented by the Romans who cooked their bread on the heart, producing a much crispier version than today’s soft oven-baked texture.

Today’s focaccia is chewy and oily, and is served with a variety of toppings: sea salt, olive oil, herbs, tomatoes, olives, or even more savory toppings such as rosemary, sage, garlic, cheese, and onions.

If you really want to get creative, you can even try your own sweet variety topped with honey and raisins – this flatbread truly is versatile!

12. Friselle

If you want a bread that will last and last, then you need to try friselle. This bread is a traditional Italian rusk, meaning that it is double baked, and was used in the past by fieldworkers or fishermen who needed a long lasting bread to eat in between their hard labor and work.

Friselle is extremely crispy and is often served with fresh tomatoes to compliment the dryness of this rusk bread.

13. Fugassa

Fugassa, or focaccia alla Genovese, is a flatbread that is believed to be the original focaccia. It is a classic type of bread that originates from Fenova, and is served coated in olive oil and sea salt to create a wonderful traditional savory taste.

Fugassa is able to combine both crispy and soft textures, and is a staple bread found on tables all across Italy.

14. Pane Altopascio

Another Tuscan bread, Pane Altopascio, has a flavor unlike any other bread. It is made from type 0 wheat, yeast, and water – and that’s it! No salt! The dough is left to rise while covered with hemp cloths and is shaped into long or rectangular shapes before it is baked for a whole hour.

Golden and crunchy, the firm crust hides a soft interior that has a taste that is all its own.

15. Pane Pugliese

Crunchy and crusty, pane Pugliese is a classic sourdough bread that has a rich and interesting history. Its origins can be traced back to 15th century Puglia when the Turks ruled that part of southern Italy. This delicious sourdough is made using only flour, water, and yeast, and was mostly eaten by peasants.

It is instantly recognizable due to its domed shaped loaf which is achieved through a unique technique of kneading – namely the wet dough folding method.

Although this dough is hard to work with, it produced an airy textured bread that is still rich in flavor. Pane Pugliese is often served as an accompaniment to soups and stews as a call back to its humble roots.

16. Pane Toscano

Pane Toscano has a name that literally translates to ‘Tuscan bread’ as this large white loaf originates from that region. It is a Tuscan specialty that is cooked in a traditional woodfired oven to give this springy bread a unique flavor.

Pane Toscano is sold in large round loaves and is mostly served with cured meats such as salami or prosciutto, or strong cheeses.

This is because pane toscano does not contain any salt, as during the time this bread was invented, salt was highly taxed and bakers could not afford to use salt in their bread.

The lack of salted flavor was made up by cooking the bread in woodfired ovens and served with strong flavored additives including olive oil and mashed garlic.

17. Piadina Romagnola

This flatbread is traditionally enjoyed as a sandwich with fillings like tomatoes and creamy cheeses, and like pane Pugliese, it has rather humble origins. Piadina Romagnola comes from Emilia-Romagna, and has been referred to as the ‘bread of poverty, humanity, and freedom’ by Italian poet Giovanni Pascoli.

Pascoli described Piadina Romagnola as ‘smooth as a leaf and as big as the moon’ due to its flat and round shape.

Piadina Romagnola is another Italian bread that has been awarded with a Protected Geographical Indication status, so inviting this flatbread to your table means that you will certainly be bringing an authentic taste of Italy into your home.

18. Pizza Bianca

Pizza Bianca is a type of pizza that completely omits the tomato sauce. Thus, you can really taste the bread base without the overpowering flavor of tomato and cheese. The tomato sauce is omitted entirely and served with olive oil and rosemary, or sometimes substituted for a lighter pesto.

It’s name literally translates to ‘white pizza’ because of this and it visually resembles what an American might assume to be ‘garlic bread’. But pizza bianca has a taste that is all its own and is unlike any other pizza you can find.

19. Torta Al Testo

Our final flatbread torta al Testo hails from Umbria and is a type of very thick griddle bread. It is named after the circular pan this bread is prepared on and was originally made without any leavening agents. However, today’s versions of torta al Testo usually contain yeast.

After it is baked, this flatbread is often cut in half and stuffed with greens like spinach or chicory, cheeses, and cured meats. This makes torta al Testo a filling meal that can be served alongside stews.

20. Tortano

And finally, we have tortano. This bread is an incredibly flavorful bread that is completely stuffed with a variety of ingredients. This type of bread is large and shaped like a ring, with the dough cooked completely surrounding the filling of cheeses, hams, eggs, and pork cracklings.

Due to its thickness and bountiful filling, this bread can be eaten on its own or served with a number of various dishes. Tortano is delicious and is traditionally served at holidays like Easter, making this bread even more special.

Breads From Italy

Well, by now you realize that there in no one best Italian bread. It largely depends on where you are in Italy, what time of day your having your Italian bread, and of course, your personal preferences. But we feel that these bread from Italy are at least among the best, and should be considered when shopping at your local Italian bakery.

Rick Zullo

Former doctor, current science teacher, and life-long food lover, Rick's passion for Mediterranean cuisine was ignited while living as an expat in Rome, Italy. 


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