Angelo Arrigoni is the owner of a bakeshop located at Borgo PIo, a few hundred meters away from Porta Sant’Anna, one of the entrances to the Vatican City. Every morning, Angelo prepares freshly baked bread: homemade bread, Genzano-style bread, unsalted bread (widely known as Tuscan bread), whole wheat bread, and a special bread that is prepared without yeast. In the end, all that crusty goodness is delivered to the Holy Father’s table in Casa Santa Marta.
Also Read: Uncovering the Mystery of the Pope’s Birth
A Bakeshop with a History
Arrigoni Bakeshop, one of the many historical establishments in the Burg (an ancient walled town), was put up by Angelo’s grandfather in the 1930s. The bakeshop has a special trait: It has been preparing bread for all the popes since Pope Pius XI was elected as the Head of the Catholic Church.
A Crusty Tradition
Making bread for the Pope is a task that has very specific rules. As soon as a new pope arrives, Arrigoni inquires about his preferences. Beginning the very next day, he prepares the requested bread that will be picked up and delivered to the Vatican. Traditionally, the bread would be brought straight to the Papal apartment. But now that Pope Francis lives in Santa Marta, it is sent there. “In the time of Pius IX, bread was placed in a closed metal case. My grandfather and the person who was in charge at the Papal apartment held the two keys to open the case, to make sure that the newly baked bread would not be touched nor replaced by anyone. Those weren’t exactly early years…”
Remembering Past Popes
Arrigoni recalls the bread he would make for the previous popes. “When I called to find out what kind of bread I was to prepare for Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II), I was told that he wanted to eat the same bread workers would eat. Therefore, I decided to send him five rosette and five ciriole rolls,” Arrigoni said, referring to the typical bread that is used by the simple folk in Rome to make sandwiches. Pope Benedict XVI—Joseph Ratzinger—was a cardinal when he would go to the bakeshop to buy bread. “He was extremely reserved and dressed in a black cassock—I thought he was a simple priest. I only learned after that that he was a cardinal. He used to buy a whole wheat loaf—what I send him even until now since it’s his favorite.”