The Island Bakery of Ventotene
“They were born here – all my three children were,” Antonio (“Tonino”) Aniello replied with an impish grin when I asked him how long daughters Francesca and Teresa – serving customers at the counter – had worked with him here in his Ventotene bakery. Opened in 1953 by his father Gioacchino, Antonio started flanking his father in the baking of breads, pizze and the taralli cookies when he was eleven. The three bakers – one is son, Gioacchino – carrying on the Aiello Forno baking traditions start work at 2 a.m, “but we started earlier,” Tonino explained, “as we didn’t have any machinery, everything was kneaded by hand.” Electricity arrived on the island of Ventotene a few years after the forno opened.
“When did you ever sleep?” I asked. “Late afternoons”, was the reply which means that the young Tonino probably rarely had times for leaps into Ventotene’s aquamarine sea with his friends. Nowadays, young vacationers on their way to the one Ventotene beach – or more likely, to the rocky outcrops overlooking coves of Ventotene’s emerald waters – stop in at Aiello bakery for lunches to take away, wrapped in brown paper.
This morning, Francesca served a chatty group of young Romans in swimsuits, towels draped over their shoulders and masks and snorkels peeping out of their swim bags, deciding on their lunch snacks: pizza with grilled eggplants, another with sliced potatoes, and tiella alla scarola (a focaccia stuffed with steamed escarole, island capers and olives). Francesca also wrapped a couple frittatine (bundles filled with meat sauce and mozzarella), arancine (rice balls), potato croquettes and prosciutto/mozzarella filled calzoni for them, too. The forno was already out of polpette di melanzane (eggplant meatballs).
Just after they left, Tonino’s son Gioacchino (named after this grandfather – as is the Italian custom – founder of Forno Aiello), brought out other trays of steaming pizza. But the group of young Romans had plenty of food for their day of seaside pleasures. They’d have to do lots of swimming and snorkeling to work it all off.
Read more on good Ventotene eating
Read about Ventotene, the “literary island”
Read more about the island of Ventotene
Read about – and see – Ventotene’s splendid sea
Read about a Ventotene spot we love
Read about Ventotene’s many enticements
Read about – and see! – pizza goodness (and not only) on Ventotene
Read about Ventotene’s bakery
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Read about “palate poetry” on Ventotene