Recipe: Pizza e minestra from La Piana dei Mulini in Molise

Recipe: Pizza e minestra from La Piana dei Mulini in Molise

Pizza e minestra, or Pizza di granturco is a typical Molisana dish and a perfect example of la cucina povera.

With ancient origins, it’s basically a vegetable soup with softened cornbread. In Molise, corn ‘pizza’ has always been the daily bread of the poor.

Laura Collins was our guest in September and very much enjoyed this dish at La Piana dei Mulini in Molise. Once home, she contacted Alessandra, our host that day, to ask for the recipe. Laura has very kindly compiled an Italian and English version for us (both below).

She says, “I think one problem for non-Italian cooks could be the use of  ‘quanto basta’ – ‘as needed’. If you’ve never had the dish, it might be hard to get the consistency right – it should be soft but not soupy.

The restaurant quantities below make a huge amount; for normal domestic use I suggest scaling it down to, say, 300g each of granturco/verdure.”


Recipe in English:

  • 1 kg yellow cornflower
  • 1 kg green vegetables (broccoli, chicory etc.)
  • warm water as needed
  • salt as needed
  • extra virgin olive oil as needed
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • chilli pepper as needed

In a bowl, mix the cornflour with salt, 3 spoons of extra virgin olive oil and warm water. The dough should be mouldable - like clay - not liquid, not too hard. Put it in a round baking tray. The “pizza” should be at least 2/3 cm high.

Don’t forget to put abundant olive oil in the tray, before moulding the pizza, and on the surface of the pizza.

Bake in the oven (180°C) for 50/60 minutes or till it’s cooked inside. Insert a wooden toothpick to check near the centre of the pizza. If it comes out clean, the pizza is done.

Lightly stew the green vegetables in a pan with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and a little bit of chilli. Leave as much water in the pan as you can, the pizza will be like a sponge.

Crumble the pizza inside the pan, turn it in the pan till everything is well mixed and serve with abundant fresh extra virgin olive oil.



Laura’s questions for Alessandra:


Laura in Agnone cooking with Leo and Rosaria


Which polenta is best to use?

Neither too fine nor too coarse. If necessary, you can mix two flours.

Yellow or white corn flour?

The traditional pizza is with yellow corn flour!

Is this always a vegetarian dish?

More commonly (as a poor dish) it was made without meat but there is a version which adds bits of pork belly or chopped up pork sausage. Best with something fatty!


Recipe in Italian:

Pizza e minestra alla Molisana

Pizza di granturco

  • 1 kg di farina di mais giallo fine*, o un misto di fine e grosso
  • acqua calda, quanto basta
  • 1 cucchiaino di sale, oppure a piacere
  • 3 cucchiai di olio extra vergine di oliva + extra per la cottura
  • Zuppa di verdure
  • 1 kg di verdure verdi (bietole, broccoli, cicoria, cavoli…), finemente sminuzzate o tritate
  • 3 spicchi d’aglio, tritati
  • peperoncino a piacere
  • olio extra vergine di oliva, q.b.

Preriscaldare il forno a 180ºC. In una ciotola mescolate la farina di mais con il sale, l’olio extra vergine di oliva e l’acqua tiepida. Impastare fino ad ottenere un impasto flessibile, né troppo duro, né troppo morbido.

Oliare abbondantemente una teglia da forno o una teglia rotonda. Aggiungere l’impasto, picchiettandolo. Segna un motivo sulla parte superiore, se lo desideri. La pizza deve essere alta almeno 2/3 cm. Spennellare la superficie della pizza con altro olio.

Infornare a 180°C per 50 - 60 minuti o fino a cottura. (Puoi controllare con uno stuzzicadenti. Se lo stuzzicadenti esce pulito, la pizza è cotta)


Minestra di verdure

Soffriggere le verdure in una pentola con olio extra vergine di oliva finché non iniziano ad appassire, aggiungere l’aglio e un po’ di peperoncino e far cuocere per un paio di minuti. Aggiungere solo abbastanza acqua per cuocere leggermente le verdure fino a quando non si saranno ammorbidite. Idealmente non si spreca nulla, nemmeno l’acqua di cottura delle verdure. La pizza lo prenderà come una spugna. Sbriciolare o grattugiare la pizza nel tegame delle verdure e mescolare. Aggiungere altra acqua se necessario. Dovrebbe essere non troppo asciutto, non troppo bagnato. Servire tepido con abbondante olio extra vergine di oliva fresco.


Tradizionalmente, si potevano aggiungere carni grasse, come pancetta di maiale o salsicce.

Questa ricetta è stata fornita da Alessandra, un’antropologa che fa da consulente sui piatti della tradizione per La Piana dei Mulini in Molise.

Our Sunday lunch with Alessandra at La Piana dei Mulini in Molise


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Our ONLINE WORKSHOPS are zooming ahead

Our ONLINE WORKSHOPS are zooming ahead

April and May Zoom Workshops have been a terrific success – the teachers were so impressed with YOUR participation, and I know from you, you’ve been impressed with THEIRS!

SO – WE CONTINUE … The new round of workshops now open for booking:


30 MAY – 20 JUNE



Letteratura Italiana

- “Racconti tra incontri e scontri”

Francesca Ricciardelli

6 ore; mercoledì; 3, 10, 17 giugno; 18.00 – 20.15, ora italiana (CET)


La Scrittura Creativa

– “Un’occasione di conversare su situazioni scelte per voi utilizzando immagini e brevi brani scritti. Avrete alcuni giorni per scrivere i vostri pezzi utilizzando: dialogo, descrizione, riassunto, diario, lettera.  Commenteremo insieme le attività.”

Marina Cambiano

6 ore; lunedì e giovedì, 1, 4, 8, 11, 15, 18 giugno; 18.00 – 19.00, ora italiana (CET)


Quattro autori per parlare di….

– “Lasciamoci ispirare da quattro brevi letture e poi parliamo.”

Simona Marras

6 ore; sabato, 30 maggio, 6, 13, 20 giugno; 16.00 – 17.30, ora italiana (CET)



– Leggere, scrivere, parlare - “Le nostre insegnanti presenteranno due temi interessanti da scoprire insieme iniziando dalla lettura fino alla conversazione, passando per la scrittura”

Francesca, Marina, Simona

6 ore; martedì e venerdì, 2, 5, 9, 12, 16, 19 giugno; 18.00 – 19.00 ora italiana (CET)


Introduciamo due incontri di CINEMA e un COOK-ALONG con Alessandra Capocefalo sul posto in Molise su Zoom

Cinema 1 – 6 giugno; 18.00 CET

Cinema 2 – 20 giugno; 18.00 CET

Cook-along 13 giugno; 18.00 CET

– tutti gli studenti sono invitati a partecipare a questi eventi.

Ulteriori informazioni sugli eventi saranno fornite dopo l’iscrizione.



- accessed via Zoom (simple to do)

- €90 for 6 hours

- payable by EURO/GBP bank transfer or PayPal

- €10 discount for referrals resulting in a sign-up


If you are interested to know more, please email me at


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ONLINE WORKSHOPS to complement your Italian Learning

ONLINE WORKSHOPS to complement your Italian Learning

The current lockdown is testing for everyone, but we’re also managing to find some silver linings. One of them, for me, is more time to study Italian.

I am working with our wonderful teachers to put together a series of workshops, and the first one is about to launch. 

Italian Literature with Francesca Ricciardelli

Dates & times:

Part 1: Wednesday, April 15th,

Part 2: Wednesday, April 22nd

Part 3: Wednesday, April 29th

At: 18.00 (European Summer Time) which is 17.00 (BST) / 10.00 (Pacific) / 12.00 (Central) / 13.00 (Eastern)

Course Material:

Francesca will post selected material a week prior to each session, but it’s preferable for you to read them in full prior to the start-date. There are links below to Kindle versions on US & UK Amazon websites, if you can’t get them in paper form.

15/04 – In Altre Parole, Jumpha Lahiri [Kindle Version: Amazon US | UK]

22/04 – Seta, Baricco [Kindle Version: Amazon US | UK]

29/04 – L’Invenzione Occasionale, Elena Ferrante [Kindle Version: Amazon US | UK]


Workshop details:

  • The 6-hour workshop consists of 3 sessions of 2 hours (+ a 15-minute break) spread over 3 weeks.
  • Groups of 5–7 participants, of a similar level, connected via Zoom (Free Video Conferencing) *If you need help with Zoom please get in touch, it’s very easy to use*
  • Prior to registration, Francesca will ‘meet’ each applicant via Skype for a 1–1 chat.
  • Places are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. 3 session course fee = €90 payable via PayPal on acceptance to the course. 

Your teacher:

Francesca Ricciardelli is currently a PhD student in Language Sciences at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. She received her MA with honours in Italian Studies at California State University, Long Beach, where she was an Assistant Fellow in the Clorinda Donato Center of Global Romance Languages and Translation Studies.

Francesca’s first MA (2016) in Language Sciences is from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, where she specialized in teaching Italian as a Foreign Language. Prior to that Francesca obtained a BA in Foreign Languages, Literatures and Linguistics, in English and French (2014) at the Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna (IT). She has worked as an instructor of Italian and Italian literature with different Cultural Associations and as a Teaching Associate at California State University, Long Beach.

Find out more about Francesca here on Linkedin

If you are interested to know more, please email me at


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A poem in Italian inspired by Maria Alice’s visit to Agnone, September 2019

A poem in Italian inspired by Maria Alice’s visit to Agnone, September 2019

Maria Alice joined us from the US and fell in love with Agnone, as so many have done!  She wrote this poem first in English and then worked on putting it into Italian. 

This final version came to be with the kind help of Maria Alice’s teachers: Anna in Pennsylvania and Erminia in Isernia.

Here it is – Italian version only to give you some challenge!


Città d’Arte
Come ti troverò?
Immersa quasi tra le nuvole
Nella campagna italiana,
La guglia di San Marco
Un faro, un ponte, una speranza.
Da quanto tempo cammino
Per le tue antiche strade?
I tuoi gradini scolpiti salgono
Infinitamente su e intorno
Attraverso strette vie tortuose.
Case con tetti di tegole rosse
Collegati tra loro Da centinaia d’anni.
Fioriere illuminano facciate grigie,
La biancheria fruscia nella brezza
Dai balconi in ferro battuto,
Gatti e gattini, grigi e neri,
Prendono il sole in mezzo a te.
Dove dovrei cercarti?
Tutto intorno a te ci sono valli,
Fattorie e colline lontane.
L’aria così chiara che,
Respirare è guarire.
In lontananza, giacciono rovine
Degli antichi sanniti che
Commerciavano con la Grecia
E costruivano grandi templi.

La tua gente, Agnone,
Ha generato vita
In cinque storici paesi,
Paesi che si sono trasformati
In una città - patrona delle arti.
Ovunque c’è arte –
La donna che cuoce il pane
In un forno di duecento anni,
L’uomo che alleva le api,
I contadini con la vite,
Con ulivi e fichi,
La famiglia che fa il formaggio,
L’artista che trasforma edifici
E fotografie in arte, Il produttore di vino,
Il fondatore della campana,
Il fabbro, il confettaio,
Il libraio, il macellaio,
La nonna che fa la pasta,
Insegnanti e guide,
I venditori di frutta,
I sacerdoti - ognuno
Di questi lavora, cammina, crea,
Ogni giorno una nuova pennellata
Sulla tua tela dal vivo.
Lontano da me adesso,
Come ti troverò?
Hai calmato la mia anima
Con i tuoi modi semplici,
Il tuo silenzioso legame
Con la famiglia, con la gente, col passato.
Come ti troverò mentre incontro
Traffico e centri affollati?
Ti troverò nel mio cuore,

Agnone, Città d’Arte.

Mary Alice Cullinan, agosto 2019


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An introduction to the pre-Roman Samnites of Molise

An introduction to the pre-Roman Samnites of Molise

Agnone, Pietrabbondante and the Sammnites - A territory rich in history.

One of the names given to the ancient town of Agnone is L’Atene del Sannio”, Athens of Sannium. Athens - because of Agnone’s rich cultural heritage, and Sannium - because Agnone is located in the heart of the Samnite territories (Sannitico in Italian).

I’d never heard of the Samnites before I went to Agnone, but then, nor have most Italians. A pre-Roman tribe, the Samnites were sophisticated and cultured. Renowned for being fearless and proud warriors, they established a vast territory from which they travelled far and wide.

A very mobile people, they were receptive to other cultures; Etruscan bronze artefacts have been found in Samnite sanctuaries, Cicero recounted that a Samnite chief travelled to Taranto in Apuglia to discuss philosophy with Archita and Plato, they exported timber and livestock. Wine was imported for their sacred ceremonies from the Bosphorus and Agean Islands, and Samnite weapons and belts found in Tunisia (Ancient Carthage), Magna Grecia and other Greek cities, are evidence of their mercenary activity.

They spoke Oscan, an adaptation of Etruscan and Greek. The famous bronze tablet, la Tavola Osca, today in the British Museum, was Pentrian Samnite, and discovered by a shepherd in the fields outside Agnone (1840). It describes the internal organisation of the sanctuary of Ceres at Pietrabbondante, and the ceremonies that took place there. The sacred inscriptions on the tablet were fundamental in helping scholars to decipher the Oscan language. Excavations of the temples and amphitheatre at Pietrabbondante began in 1843, and by 1856 had aroused such interest that the site was granted government protection by the Bourbon King Ferdinand of Naples. Very rich in artefacts, excavations still continue today.

Identifying as one people divided into tribes, the Samnites formed an organised democratic republic encouraging freedom of expression. Totally different from the politics of Rome, which was influenced and led by patrician families, the Samnites favoured an equitable society, very advanced for the time. There were no powerful landowners, the land was free for everyone to use for grazing and farming. Nor did the Samnites keep slaves.

Their tribal structure made the territory difficult to penetrate, allowing them to control large parts of southern Italy for a long time. Their forms of settlement and land use can still be seen today in an impressive system of fortifications, forming a barrier that was very difficult for the Roman army to break through. It is said that the Samnites could have been masters of Italy had they formed a united or federal state, but unlike the Romans, they valued individual freedom much more than greatness or power, and more than the permanent preservation of their state.

CREDIT: By Italy_400bC_It.svg: Decanderivative work: Richardprins (talk) - Italy_400bC_It.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Originally allied with Rome against the Gauls, the Samnites later became enemies of Rome, fighting a series of battles, known as the 3 Samnite Wars; in 343, 326 and 298BC. Despite early overwhelming victories, they were finally defeated, and so severe was their threat, that by 82BC the Roman dictator, Lucius Cornelius Sulla had subjected them to an ethnic cleansing campaign, after which the Samnites more or less disappeared from history.

They were predominantly shepherds and herders, a tradition that continued in the region long after the tribe had been destroyed. The tratturi, the wide grassy pathways that cut through Molise from the hills of Abruzzo to the plains of Puglia, were first established by the Samnites. Like the motorways of their time, these routes brought livestock to the southern plains for the winter and back to the mountains for summer grazing.

Many of the cultural traditions of Molise are rooted in Samnite history. It is a strong legacy of which the Molisani are very proud.

"The Romans' humiliation by the Samnites : Double-sided page [fol. LXXVIII, Do nun die Samnites ho[s?]teu / dal: Papirius"


Tap images for Full Size:

Date: 1505

Contributors: Anonymous Printmaker
Titus Livius Patavinus (Roman, 59 BCE-17 CE), Author
Johann Schöffer (German, ca. 1468-1531), Publisher
Bernhard Schöfferlin (German, ca. 1436-1501), Translator

Source: New York Public Library


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Live & Learn Italian Language Holidays – A taste of the 2 Week Programme

Live & Learn Italian Language Holidays – A taste of the 2 Week Programme

Agnone welcomes the first group for a beautiful summer 2019 of Italian Language Holidays.


Saturday, June 15-29, 2019

Our drivers Fernando and Donatella brought guests to Agnone in 2 batches - from Canada, Australia, the US and UK.

Sunday, we went out to Marco’s, to hear about his honey and wine production.

Marco showing the group his honey

The pollen is extracted from wild fruits giving the honey strong medicinal properties.

Learning about wine production on Marco’s farm.

Some vines were planted recently, but many have been lovingly restored.

The day also gave the teachers a chance to meet everyone, and assess 1 – 1 before lessons on Monday.

Lunch was in the very cool stone cantina, with simple food from the garden. Different varieties of Marco’s fresh honey was drizzled over ricotta, we had a selection of other piatti tipici, and, of course, home made wine.

Lessons started Monday in Palazzo San Francesco, then for coffee to Letterario to get acquainted with the staff, and work out the many different ways to order coffee in Italy.

On an afternoon walk around the centro storico Walter’s group (surprisingly popular name in this region!) stopped by one of the most beautiful of the 16 churches. Before a chance encounter with a lady called Filomena, and Guido, il fabbro.

This led to hair appointments for Anne and Sally in the salon of Filomena’s daughter… funny how conversations segue, even in another language! 

Cooking dinner with Maria is a good way to relax and unlock the tongue

While Lucrezia and Francesca like to plan lessons together with a spritz, before joining the other small group dinner in famiglia with Rosaria and Leo.

Leo’s knowledge of history is extensive, and as natives of Naples, their love for Agnone comes with an outsider’s eye.

Before lessons a small group went to sample the focaccia, hot out of Mercedes’ forno a legno – 

She told us about her daily work; the lievito madre, preparing the loaves, heating the oven, growing the grain, the stone grinding, old recipes passed down from her nonna.

And then, off we went down the mountain to her brother, Donato, making cheese, with milk from his 20 cows. The bocconcino he gave us to taste was warm.

A walk in the woods kept everyone shaded. Stefania pointed out wild flowers, and herbs and grasses used in local dishes.

Saturday evening we drove out to Sant’Onofrio for a talk about the ‘ndociatta festival; the origins and traditions, making of the torches, and careful processes of this ancient pageant. Dinner, a variety of local dishes, finishing with oven baked lamb and potatoes was prepared by Gino… and delicious vegetarian seasonal platters.

But we expired early; it’d been a full week, and this learning Italian every day is tiring – plus we had to get up early Sunday to get to Campobasso for la festa dei Misteri  – a unique event with tableaus ( – real people) enacting the lives of the saints on Corpus Domini, 40 days after Easter.

A rooftop drink on the terrace at Tonina’s B&B – not 1, not 2, but 3 men in one session! Might be a first…. Welcome to the men!

At the little borgo of Marongoni, Nicola Mastronardi explained that the beautiful room into which we assembled was once animal stalls of the family small-holding.

His talk about the transumanza explored how profoundly this ‘migration’ has influenced the cultural life of the Molisani, before we gathered with all the family for a delicious meal.

PIetrabbondante is a site we never miss – even those who’ve been with us numerous times enjoy seeing it again and again; serene, majestic, and there’s always a mountain breeze which, this June, was most welcome.

Anna Maria had obtained black truffles from a local tartufaio, and the meal she prepared was a selection of local flavours. Describing the recipes of the simple dishes, she wove in stories about the land and harvests.

it was a packed 2 weeks with wonderful weather, if a little on the hot side - and the group left for Rome with a palpable sense of achievement. Tongues had definitely been loosened, and all had enjoyed meeting and engaging with this warm community.

Preparing now for September!

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