Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian

We meet Anna Pruneti, know in Castellina in Chianti as “Anna di Vignale”, in her country house, that has been in her family for three generations. She welcomes us with open arms.

Anna lives in Vignale, hence the nickname, near Fonterutoli, in Castellina in Chianti. Her skills as a cook are well known not only in the area, but in the whole Chianti area.

We enter her old-style country kitchen, that has a big fireplace.

Anna is a joyful person, and loves talking about her passion for cooking: “I’ve always had a great passion for cooking, and so did my mother and grandmother. When my grandparents got married, they moved to Vignale, and here I’ve live all my life. We were a family of share croppers, breeding cows, sheep, pigs, chicken and turkeys. It was a harsh life, we were quite poor, as the best food would go to the landowner, and we were usually not left with much”.

“As a child – she tells us – I used to love watching my granny cooking, and help her. The fireplace was not too high, so I managed to stir the food as she was preparing it on the fire. I became quite good and as she got older, I started working in the house helping my mum with her chores. But cooking became my real passion, I wanted to learn how to do a good ‘soffritto’, or to cook a rabbit. All those smells and tastes were a delight to me”.

“Cooking is really great – she says smiling – it’s so satisfying. You can try new things, experiment with ingredients. My mum’s specialities were the desserts, while granny was good at cooking first and second courses. I’m very attached to local traditional dishes, Iike meat sauces, ragù, stew. Grilled meat? I prefer cooking on the stove. When I was a child, we used to bake bread and make cheeses like ricotta and raveggiolo”.

“As a teenager – she remebers – I started working as a bar tender for the Mazzei family, from Fonterutoli, I used to bake cakes. But I had to stop working there, because I was needed at home, my parents weren’t very well. They needed someone who could take care of the family, and the kitchen. Later on I went to work as a cook at the Albergo Casafrassi, I stayed there 17 years. During this time I went on some cooking courses to improve my skills. I’ve also been on TV. The Vidali family, who owned the Albergo Casafrassi, needed someone to cook for a TV program that was advertising their Cinta senese pig farm and their wines. So I did. I cooked a whole meal, from starter to dessert”.

And now we’ll learn how to cook the Pappa al Pomodoro, a traditional “cucina povera” country dish, that uses left over bread.

A dish that is cheap and delicious, and once it was also used for weaning babies.


Garlic, basil, tomatoes, bread and oil. Judge the quantities roughly. Cooking time: around 40 minutes.

Fry the garlic in abundant olive oil, add fresh tomatoes and tomato sauce. Cut the stale bread into thin slices.

When the tomatoes are starting to cook, add the bread. Let it boil for 40 minutes, and add a bit of olive oil every now and then.

When it’s cooked, add a fresh basil leaf.

Jessica Nardi