Italian Language Blog

La Farinata Posted by on May 1, 2009 in Uncategorized

Very often it’s the simple things in life that are the best, take for example la farinata. La farinata, or faina’ as the locals call it, is a delicious savory pancake made with farina di ceci (chick pea flour), water and olive oil. Originating in the region of Liguria, la farinata  is also popular a bit further south in the Massa area where they call it ‘calda calda’ (literally ‘hot hot’), and in Lucca, Pisa, and Livorno where it is known as  cecina or cecino. The Fiorentini (‘People from Florence’) call it Farinata alla Fiorentina (‘Florentine Farinata’) although this name is erroneous because, as mentioned above, it’s origins are Ligurian. Further afield la farinata can even be found in Provence, France, where it was taken by the mothers of young Italian men who were forcibly enrolled into Napoleon’s army and followed to France by their distraught families.

Do you ever wonder how, where, and by whom recipes were invented? Well fortunately we have a legend (yes yet another legend!) which explains the precise origins of la farinata, eccola (here it is):

In August of 1284 the Genovesi (‘People from Genoa’) gave the Pisani (‘People from Pisa’) a jolly good bashing at the battle of Meloria. During the chaos of battle a number of sacks of ceci (chick peas) split open and got mashed up with the contents of several broken barrels of olive oil in the galley of a Pisan ship. Now, the Genovesi have a reputation for being tirchi (tight), and have a horror of throwing anything away. They therefore fed their Pisan prisoners bowls of the flour and oil mixture or ‘farinata’, rendered more palatable by the heat of the sun which had evaporated the water. Later the Genovesi, recognizing a good thing when they saw it, perfected the recipe by baking a thin layer of the impasto (paste) on large iron skillets in an oven.

If you don’t have the opportunity to pop down to Liguria to buy yourself a nice hot piece of ‘farinata’ you can always have a go at making it yourself. Here’s what you need:


250 gr di farina di ceci                                250 grams of chick pea flour

750 ml di acqua                                         750 milliliters of water

olio extravergine di oliva                            extra virgin olive oil

sale e pepe                                               salt and pepper


1 nave Pisana in cui mescolare l’impasto    1 Pisan battleship in which to mix the paste, if you don’t happen to have a Pisan battleship handy you can always mix it by hand in a bowl.

Put the flour in a mixing bowl, dilute it with the water and add salt to taste. Mix the flour and water thoroughly until it is smooth and there are no lumps. Leave the mixture to rest for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight. Skim off the surface foam that should have formed, and remix the paste. Spread a generous amount of oil (my recipe gives about a quarter of a cup!) in a low wide baking pan, then pour in a thin layer (roughly 3mm) of the flour and water paste, stirring it with a wooden spoon to allow the oil to be absorbed by the ‘farinata’.  Cook in a preheated oven at 200 C (400 Fahrenheit) until the farinata is golden in color and has a crusty surface. Cut into squares and serve hot sprinkled with rosemary leaves or freshly ground black pepper.

If you are not familiar with metric measurements you will easily find a number of sites on the internet that give conversion rates for just about everything, e.g.


Buon appetito

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  1. VincePlato:


    Did you know that Cicero is a nickname meaning chick pea? Thus it seems the word is ceci in modern Italian. At least this is what I have read.


  2. Alfredo:

    Torta di Ceci, called “torta” is a traditional food in Livorno. In Pisa they call it “cecina” and it is the same thing. I have had “farinata” in Liguria not bad, but it is not as crispy as we make it.

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