Perugia’s Rocca Paolina and bland bread
History and legends intertwine in Perugia’s citadel of Rocca Paolina.
In 1540, the beautiful city in Umbria – formally part of the Papal States, although it enjoyed a certain level of independence – rebelled against Paul III (born Alessandro Farnese) and sparked the so-called Salt War. The year before, the Pope had increased the price of salt despite the harsh famine already endured by the people. The aristocracy maliciously stoked the unrest, hoping to free themselves from Rome.
The Pope excommunicated the rebels and sent to Perugia armed troops – including some Landsknechte – led by his son Pier Luigi Farnese. The city surrendered on June 3, 1540, and was forced to build a citadel for the Pope. Thus Antonio da Sangallo the Younger designed a fortress for the papal garrison, and Perugia lost all the freedom and independence it had until then.
From these historical facts, a legend emerged to explain the origin of Umbria’s typical bland-flavored bread. Some say that after their defeat, the people of Perugia decided to quit salting bread in order to silently protest against the increase in price that had started the war.
It was a small, daily reminder of the untamable spirit of the people living around Rocca Paolina.