Marco Ceccobelli, host of the agriturismo farmhouse il Casaletto in the Viterbo countryside, organises a peasant breakfast to turn the spotlight on the difficult restaurant situation. Here's how it went.

The difficulties of the dining world

Peasant breakfast, a thing of the past. Almost one of those old school ballads sung by Italian songwriter Guccini in his old records. And there’s also the fog, in the Ceccobelli family farm, at the first light of dawn, when one by one the cars of dining “freedom fighters” began to arrive, shortly after 5 in the morning: a suitable time to leave the house according to the provisions of the regional ordinance of Lazio. In fact, it was just in the hours after the last Dpcm that Marco Ceccobelli, the host of Il Casaletto farmhouse about ten kilometers from Viterbo (Tre Spicchi and Tre Gamberi on the Gambero Rosso guides), launched his provocation: “They assimilated us to bars – he yelled at his folks – They tell us to open from 5 am to 6 pm. Well, let’s open at 5 and have a big peasant breakfast. At least we recover a beautiful tradition and take some space for socializing, to be together and see each other around a table, since at lunch with today’s rhythms there is almost never anyone and at dinner – our magical moment of relaxation we can host anyone!”

Preparazione della griglia

Peasant breakfast at dawn

If at the beginning it was supposed to be a protest to ask that restaurants could open for dinner, the provocation then took the appearance of a flash-mob with a cultural backbone. So armed with panonto, grilled guanciale, beans with pork rinds, coratella (and lots of wine), on the notes of Guccini’s best songs, the peasant breakfast was was served. There were wine producers (Roberto Trappolini and Edoardo Ventimiglia of Sassotondo, who came from Tuscany), winemakers, fellow restaurateurs and wine representatives, journalists, “ordinary” people (doctors, professors, professionals), there were Stefano Asaro – Slow Food Lazio – who left the Castelli Romani to be there: all eager to participate in a strange event to affirm that the table is part of our culture. “At a certain point Gianfranco Vissani also arrived together with Enrico Neri – a wine producer from Orvieto – to eat the panonto: he was galvanized by the atmosphere. He looked like a child at the amusement park scoffing pork rinds and offal. In the end, about sixty people – more was not possible and many were left out – toasted the conviviality with a worry in their morning thoughts: “Will this be the last chance to meet at the table between now and next spring?”

Pentola di fegatini

“We are not negationists – Marco Ceccobelli is keen to reiterate – On the contrary, we have great respect for the regulations and the incredible work being done in hospitals. This is why our initiative is not one of protest: after all, who should we protest against? Against the virus? Of course, it is the desire to affirm that we exist and that we are part of this country and its history, its culture. So, yes, we ask that they do not abandon us and that they allow us to keep our businesses alive. The best thing? A phone call from my neighbour, also a farmer: “Let me milk the cows and I’ll be right over,” he told me. Without the peasant breakfast we would not have seen each other…”

In short, an early alarm clock setting brought to the table people united by the passion for a world that wants to be there and continue to exist.

by Stefano Polacchi