Monday evening, Umbra Institute students wandered twisting streets to find Pizza e Musica, a hidden Perugia pizzeria that once served as a convent, and participate in the famous Umbra Pizza Workshop.
Umbra staff member Julie Falk shattered some preconceptions when she revealed that pizza is not of Italian origins (the Egyptians were all about leavened breads hundreds of years earlier) during her brief speech on pizza history and its significance in the Italian culture.
Students then explored the art of pizza, guided by Austrian pizzaiolo (pizza-maker) David. His audience ooh-ed and ahh-ed as David tossed the dough in the air and easily painted on olive oil and fresh tomato sauce and sprinkled mozzarella and basil, the makings of a classic margarita pizza.
“But here’s the tricky part,” David said as he reached for his padella, or pizza shovel (yes, that’s actually what it’s called), deftly scooped up his creation, and slid it deep into the recesses of the wood-fired oven. With the right wood (oak is popular, though olive is preferred) and amount of flame, the perfect pizza may be cooked between 90 seconds and three minutes.
Umbra student Brittany Cole was first to step behind the counter and stretch, dress, and cook her own pizza.
“It was so fun — and really rewarding!” she exclaimed before she took a bite of her piping hot creation.
After several of Cole’s classmates tried their hand at becoming pizzaioli, students gave the expert David their orders and enjoyed authentic Italian pizza, drinks, and a grand finale of Nutella pizza on Pizza e Musica’s vine-encased veranda.