Artusi: Italy’s most famous cook and one of his most wonderful traditional Italian recipes

Artusi's delicious traditional Italian recipe - Soup with little ricotta ‘bricks’

One of the first-ever ‘celebrity chefs’, Pellegrino Artusi (1820-1911) lived most of his life in Florence’s city centre. He is famous to this day for his exceptional Italian cookbook, titled ‘La Scienza in cucina e l’Arte di mangiar bene’  – Science in the kitchen and the art of eating well.


After decades of research, Artusi self-published his book in 1881, making just 1000 copies. Having been rejected by publishers initially, it did eventually get taken up by a publishing house and has remained in print ever since in over 100 editions. There is even now an Artusi iPhone application!

These traditional Italian recipes became – and remained – famous not only for the fact that they are all delicious and well-described, but also for his sometimes humorous, sometimes sarcastic, and always helpful writing style. There are recipes to cure specific ailments, special occasion dishes, suggests on when and how to serve dishes, and the health benefits different ingredients or recipes have.

Artusi's delicious traditional Italian recipe - the little ricotta ‘bricks’ served with broth atop

Artusi’s recipes, hailing mostly from around Italy but also a few inspired by other cuisines, are divided into helpful categories covering an entire meal right down to the minor details from soups to sides, broth to batter, sauces and syrups.


One delicious Artusi dish we recently enjoyed was home-made Minestra di Mattoncini di Ricotta – Soup with little ricotta ‘bricks’.


A good friend of Artviva Walking Tours (and a great cook of traditional Tuscan recipes) recently made this impressive Tuscan recipe for us.


The Artusi recipe calls for the ricotta bricks to be placed inside a soup terrain and then served. Our host was a little more theatrical, placing the bricks on our plates first, then ladling the broth over the top before us to a wave of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ with each steaming spoonful.


Here is the traditional Tuscan recipe by Artusi:


Minestra di Mattoncini di Ricotta

(Soup with little ricotta ‘bricks’)


200 g ricotta cheese

30 grams grated Parmesan cheese

2 eggs

salt to taste

lemon zest and a dash of nutmeg


Pass the ricotta through a sieve. Add the other ingredients – the eggs one at a time. Mix well

and pour the mixture into a buttered mold, with buttered paper lining the bottom. Cook in a bain-marie. When cool, remove it from the mold, discard the paper, and cut it into cubes of approximately one centimetre wide. Place the cubes in a soup tureen, add boiling broth, and send to the table. These amounts serve five to six people. ?


If you would like to do a small-group hands-on cooking class in Tuscany, learning to make traditional Tuscan recipes, using the best fresh produce, you could sign up for an Italian cookery course in Florence, and perhaps also a market visit where you can learn about the traditional ingredients before heading to the kitchen to turn the products into delicious, typical dishes and then indulging in a delicious lunch made by you! .


We can also help you with small-group Tuscany wine excursions to explore Tuscany’s wine country to learn about ? and taste ? delicious Tuscan wines and the meals (and views!) they are best served with.


Artviva is a proud supporter and member of the Slow Food movement, and specialises in small-group, quality (and fun) tours in Florence/Tuscany, Rome, Venice and beyond. Visit for more information, or email

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