The history of cantuccini

In 1858 Antonio Mattei's bakery opened its doors in Via dell'Appianato. The elegant wooden sign above the store announced him as a "manufacturer of cantucci, cookies and other products". His products were immediately appreciated, as Mattei received a medal of merit for his cantucci just three years later, at the Italian Exposition in Florence in 1862. They also won awards in Turin in 1863 and at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1867.

At that time, the term "Cantucci" did not refer to the almond cookies that later became the symbol of Prato, but to large slices of rusk with anise seeds, already known in Prato in the 17th century. This product was the flagship of the company, along with others that gradually gained importance. These included the almond cookies that Mattei developed from an 18th century recipe.

He received the recipe for a simple and airy dessert from two nuns from Mantua, to whom he extended generous hospitality. This recipe then became the Mantovana, another trademark achievement of the Mattei Bakery. After the unification of Italy, the cookies from Prato were already known throughout Italy and abroad. There are numerous testimonies from that period that tell about this reputation. The great German writer Hermann Hesse, in his travelogue about Italy, mentions the deliciousness of the cookies.

Pellegrino Artusi, the father of Italian cuisine, praises it in his book "The science in the kitchen and the art of good food" and writes: "... he possessed the genius of his art and was honest and very hardworking." From the beginning, the nickname "Mattonella" was added to that of the producing family.

According to some accounts, the nickname derives from the exotic tiles that covered the facade of the store at the beginning of the 20th century, which greatly impressed the people of Prato. However, there is also the opinion that "Mattonelle" was already before the name by which the Aniscantucci were known in Tuscany. In 1885 Antonio Mattei died and passed the bakery to his son Emilio, who continued it until the beginning of the 20th century. The bakery was then bought by Egisto Ciampolini and his wife Italia, with the financial support of a relative named Tommaso Pandolfini.

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Inventor of the Cantuccini, Antonio Mattei, 

1820 - 1985