The Bussolà Forte of Murano reinvent itself for the 1600 years of Venice

19 October 2021

Bibliographic research, art, contamination, manual skills, teamwork. These are the keywords behind the project that led a group of people from Murano and Venice, lovers of traditions and history of Venice, to rediscover the “Bussolà Forte”. We are talking about a pastry whose origins date back in 1600, when traces can be found in the daily diary of a Murano glassmaker, Francesco Luna, who refers to it as a food present on a wedding banquet.

Today this typical pastry from Murano is experiencing a revival, thanks to its ancient recipe handed down in Murano from family to family, wrapped in a new modern and creative packaging specifically designed to celebrate the 1600 years from the foundation of Venice. The Bussolà Forte was born during an evening when some friend from Venice and Murano (Fabio Busetto, Gherardo Toso, Marco Toso Borella, Alberto Toso Fei, Roberto Mazzetto) met for a “creative chat”  in the old workshop of the Tintoretto, as usually happened in the old literary cafes of the Cannaregio district, in Campo dei Mori. A magic place, an atelier, but at the same time a typography, a graphic studio, a laboratory where ideas were born, inspired by who in that place lived and worked: Jacopo Robusti, also known as the Tintoretto.

“The Bussolà Forte is a typical pastry from the island of Murano, since there’s no other place where you can eat it- says Gherardo Toso from Murano, owner of a typical Venetians tavern, pastry chef and creator of the recipe- A really unique pastry, that dates back to the Middle age and deepens its roots in ancient times, its ingredients contain the history of Venice. We have flour, molasses and not sugar, candied and dried fruits, chocolate and spices which made Venice fortune, like nutmeg, cinnamon, and white pepper.

It is a pastry created by our ancestors, we simply reproduced it on the occasion of the 1600 years of Venice, since here in Murano it was eaten only on two particular days: on March 25, Day of the Annunciation which corresponds with the supposed birth date of Venice, and December 6, feast of San Nicolò, the island patron Saint. “

Once it is ready, in this special edition the “Bussolà Forte” is laid into a decorated paperbox, which is itself a masterpiece. An octagonal-shaped box, with a hole at the center, which recalls the real Venetian “vera da pozzo”.

“We found ourselves under the roof of the Tintoretto, and we like to work on projects related to the history of Venice- explains Roberto Mazzetto, of the Bottega del Tintorello-. We work with paper; we fold it and this octagon inspired us to bet on this shape: we don’t produce boxes but masterpieces. We worked on the height, forced by the size of the pastry, which is itself another masterpiece. It wasn’t designed until we were asked to create it. It is the result of manual skills and transformation. The sealing wax secures the box and protects the package for the customer who will receive it. All the boxes are handmade, and the sealing wax certifies the authenticity of the product. The stamp with the cockerel recalls the island of Murano from which the Bussolà Forte came from”.

On the sides of the box, which contains the pastry made in Murano and dedicated to the 1600 years of Venice, are engraved some phrases inspired by the daily diary of Francesco Luna, glassmaker from Murano who “described itself according to what happened around him”, says Marco Toso Borella, glassmaker and historian that, together with Alberto Toso Fei, dug through books and collections to learn perfectly the genesis of the pastry Bussolà Forte.

One of the inscriptions on the box says, “…today at the wedding there was Bussolà Forte”. “With this phrase Luna wanted to focus the attention on the Bussolà as a symbol of celebration. Murano was a keeper of many glass secrets, an island within an island. He minded his own coin, the “osella” which was given to the master glassmakers to make them feel noble. The Bussolà thus became a symbol of the peculiarity of Murano, which meant to be privileged. The search for the original recipe and its presentation, make the box part of the project, because it tells everything that stands behind it. Venice has always represented the reaction of what was happening around it: Venice and Murano were pragmatic. The Bussolà was the pastry made in Murano by us, for us, and for those who wish to eat it. In this case for those who want to know not simply its taste but also its history”.

Fabio Busetto was the glue that held all this group of Venetians and Murano friends together. Each one with his own peculiarity. Putting them together, during one of the Thursday evenings spent in the Tintoretto workshop, gave birth to this idea, this project.

“The packaging was born to enhance the 1600 years of Venice, we wanted to find a different kind of celebration, to involve and connect those who will taste the Bussolà Forte, discovering it- says Fabio Busetto-. This is a team value, as it is the city itself: different talents have created a product that wants to represent the 1600 years of the city. Production for now is limited but we are arranging with Venetian’s bakers and confectioners to produce Bussolà Forte in larger quantities, so that it can be not just a niche product. Soon we will have a website and dedicated social accounts and we will not stop on March 25, 2022. Because our aim is to make this, and other Venetian traditions, known even beyond the celebrations of the 1600 years of Venice.”