Gnesina la fornara: A Taste of Heritage in Terracina
‘Gnesina la fornara translates from Italian to Agnese the baker, is a super talented baker: a skill that made her bakery into a real institution and attraction in Terracina, a 2500 years old historic city
Agnese runs a very tiny shop hidden in a neglected alley of Terracina’s historic centre; no signs, no lights to recall her presence, just a road sign that says “baked pastries” and an arrow.
I interview this dynamic 70-years old lady on a rather slow Italian morning. The historic center of Terracina is incredibly silent, a dramatic shift from the noisy and crowded mid-summer music nights that it is used to. Tourists are already a memory, and the area has returned to its usual quietness.
The environment is informal, and more than an interview, we have a relaxed conversation between two generations. When I first arrive, Agnese isn’t at the bakery; she lives right at the upper floor of her bakery shop, and spends her day being around the small neighborhood. Whenever she is needed, her husband call for her.
At first (to conclude my impressions about the lovely informal character of the place) I didn’t even recognize the bakery shop: as said before, there is no sign to indicate the location of the bakery. The only thing that does so, is a printed paper hanged on the shop’s door, that reads: “bakery by Agnese; for pastries, ring the bell”.
What follows is a small interview with Agnese:
When and where did you start working as a baker?
I started working as a baker when I was 19 years old. My father taught me how to make bread. I have been working in this same bakery for 51 years now; the products have changed but the place remains the same and will always be up here (near the historic center). we are in the grace of god.
I saw a nondescript small sign to direct me to your bakery. Don’t you need some visibility?
No, we don’t. As I said, we’ve been here for the last 51 years: everyone knows where to find us.
What kind of people visit your bakery?
People come from all over the region to visit this bakery. They are mostly tourists who have a holiday house here, and come every summer. For us, and them, it is a piece of history. What makes me really happy is the fact that many people visitng us even after twenty or thirty years. This means that we’re doing good.
That is indeed impressive. Which one is your best selling product?
Certainly the wine-flavored crispy donuts. We sell hundreds of them all the year round. Our recipe is 50 years old.
And she couldn’t be more right about it: the aroma of the donuts is irresistible, and her legendary wine-flavored donuts do leave a taste of heritage as my trip to this ancient city of Terracina comes to a close.
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