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Camilla Verdacchi

The "technological" Pope who did not give up on cod fillets

"The table for the Pope isn't ready yet: cod fillets are missing ..."
That's right: the Vatican reigned by a Pope who almost every day demanded one of the most exquisite Roman specialties on the table.

Crispy, golden, fragrant ...
Roman cod fillets, accompanied by chicory "puntarelle" flavored with garlic, white wine and chopped anchovies in oil, are one of the things that in Rome you want to taste, at least once in a lifetime.

Pope Pius XII, at least three or four times a week, wanted to have exactly this meal in front of himself, which had to be always packed by the same hands: those of the "Filettaro a Santa Barbara" in Largo dei Librari, in the (not far from the Vatican) via dei Giubbonari.

Roman cod fillets: just looking at them would make you hungry at any time of the day ...


A place that we can now define famous all over the world for this tasty specialty. Many are prepared to wait in disciplined long lines, in order to arrive at the coveted counter, beyond which the two huge oil pots sizzle , from which the crispy, golden and swollen fillets come out as from cornucopias ...

"Er filettaro in Santa Barbara" with its inevitable line to get to the counter, and the usual crowding at the tables

The chronicles report that the Pontiff, every day, sent his secretary to the very popular fish-place, giving him the precise task of returning with that precious little bag, even if this required queuing for hours, and that the Pope's need of codfish was not limited to Friday, when Christian worship prescribes not to eat meat.

A gastronomic pleasure that the journalist and art critic Antonello Trombadori "codified" in these verses:


"To see if the fillet is well done

color, crunchiness and frying,

you must be able to feel the taste with your eyes

and imagine its flavor

go to the Librari, if you want to see them

and if you want to learn art and talent

of whitening the cod with flour"



A plate that can be served to a Pope.
On the other hand, Pope Pius XII, Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli, was deeply Roman; his figure and his role during the Second World War are still being deeply examined by historians, but there has never been any doubt about his love for his city and the Capitoline traditions.

He was the first pontiff to use radio and cinema to spread his message, but he did not compromise on gastronomy: for that he loved to "fish" (it is appropriate to say it) in the most ancient Roman traditions.

Antonello Trombadori, in the center, smiling, with a white shirt, author of the Romanesque verses that praise "Er Filettaro"

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Some reviews of people that I have had the pleasure of guiding on my tours

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