Farinam et ova ad faciendum rafiolos.
In Bergamo, the records are never enough. And it already holds many records: a World Heritage wall since 2017, three Guinness World Records for the longest hug relay and the most couples hugging in the world and the nomination as UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy for cheeses in 2019.
But this year a sixth cockade has arrived: the authorship of the oldest ravioli in Europe!
Bergamo, city of culinary wonders
Cheeses, stuffed pasta, polenta, cured meats and wines from Bergamo mark the local life and adorn the visitors’ travels with pleasant memories. Bergamo’s food and wine undoubtedly goes hand in hand with its geographical, historical and cultural attractions. Witness the solid, constant appreciation of anyone who knows her.
Perhaps, however, this year food and wine surpasses its sisters. Rafiolo di Sant’Alessandro makes its entrance on the flavour scene, to date the first European stuffed pasta to be documented.
A delicacy for the patron saint
Therefore, not only casoncelli and scarpinocc, the new entry on our menu is a delicious ravioli that was prepared in the parish of Sant’Alessandro, once located in the Upper Town at the entrance gate dedicated to the saint and remembered today by a column.
What can we say – between rafiolo and stracciatella, this area has all the credentials to become the new reference for gourmands.
But when exactly was the Sant’Alessandro rafiolo created?
If the first news of casoncelli dates back to 13th May 1386, the document found a few months ago by food and wine journalist Silvia Tropea Montagnosi at the Historical Diocesan Archives of Bergamo places the rafiolo at least 200 years earlier, in 1187. The parchment handed down the minutes of a trial held in Bergamo at the behest of Pope Urban III: a “volunteer” from the Parish of Sant’Alessandro, a certain Avostano, tells us that it was customary to pack the rafioli with ingredients donated by the Bishop.
Custom, therefore tradition. Rafiolo is even older than what the document would suggest and rewrites the history of stuffed pasta, first reported by the chronicle of Friar Salimbene de Adam from Parma with his “ravioli sine crusta di pasta” (1284).
The words of Avostano
“[…] multones et vinum et panem et farinam et ova ad faciendum rafiolos et piper et salem et ligna.”
That is: “mutton and wine and bread and flour and eggs to make ravioli and pepper and salt and wood”. Despite the ravages of time, the parchment leaves us the precise list of ingredients for the dish, which was offered in the days after Easter. With “mutton” we mean sheep meat, perhaps braised with spices or roasted, while the pasta was obviously egg-based.
The debut at “De Casoncello”
The ingredients mentioned by the medieval chronicler were immediately taken up by some restaurateurs from Bergamo, who wanted to revive the rafiolo during the 2021 edition of “De Casoncello”.
The event annually celebrates Bergamo’s stuffed pasta, from casoncelli to capel de monega, from scarpinocc and creste scalvine to ravioli with braised Covo and bertù. The sixth edition proposed numerous events related to the celebration of rafiolo di Sant’Alessandro throughout the streets of the Upper Town, and we expect that the next events will continue to promote this new star of Bergamo’s gastronomy.
Traditional and revisited delicacies
In short, Bergamo is a land of endless surprises, which await you along exciting food and wine itineraries.
If you love the flavours of the past, but also to rediscover them in a modern way, then get your taste buds ready. Come and discover its deliciousness!