Themed ancient Roman dinner: ‘Cum Apicio edimus’

The British School at Rome’s wonderful chef, Luca Albanese, treated the staff and residents to an ancient Rome-inspired dinner last Friday night.friday dinner menu

The dinner was primarily in honour of the visiting group of undergraduates from the University of Reading, who were staying at the BSR while taking part in a week long tour of ancient Rome. However, it is not the first time that Luca has wowed with his creative cooking having previously made a dinner inspired by famous works of art.


Staff and students from University of Reading on the steps of the BSR, image by Katherine Paines

The entire meal was a triumph, but what was particularly impressive was the authenticity of what was being served, shown most clearly when you look at the similarity between the pane romano made by Luca and the preserved ancient loaf of bread on display in the Villa Boscoreale Museum.

Ancient ROman bread

Ancient bread displayed in the Villa Boscoreale Museum. Image by Sophie Hay

lucas bread

‘Modern’ pane romano. Image by Stephen Kay

The resemblance between the two is uncanny!

For those of you wanting to make your own ancient Roman feast Luca has been kind enough to share his recipe below.

Within the recipe are included instructions on how to make your own yeast; however if is difficult to find one of the ingredients (lievito di birra: fresh brewer’s yeast), it is still possible to make the bread with dried yeast by just following the second section. 


This recipe makes 2 loaves.

For the yeast:
50g flour
25ml red wine
25ml water
2g fresh/nutritional yeast (lievito di birra)

First mix together half the flour with the red wine and leave for one day to rise (trust Luca on this one- it works!). Once you’ve left that for a day add the water and about a quarter of the unused flour, mixing until you have a soft dough. Repeat this for the next 4 days. On the last day add a few crumbs (about 2g) of your fresh yeast (lievito di birra) and leave for another day.

For the bread:
750g flour
375ml water
45g salt
2 tbsp olive oil
50g flaxseeds

Mix together all the bread ingredients in a large bowl and add your pre-made yeast mixture (or 1 heaped teaspoon of dry yeast dissolved in a little warm water). Leave to rise for at least 12 hours and then form into circular loaves, scoring the top slightly to form wedge shapes (see above photo). Leave for one more hour and then bake at 190°C for 30 minutes, before lowering the oven to 150°C for an additional 20 minutes.

Once you have removed it from the oven Luca recommends putting the fresh bread into a paper bag to keep it soft and moist.

Katherine Paines (Communication and Events Assistant)

Images by Luca Albanese, Katherine Paines, Stephen Kay and Sophie Hay

If this has inspired you to try more italian cuisine, Luca regularly updates his own blog accessible at: