Break. Cake. In Italy bread is generally white with a crunchy crust while in Tuscany and Umbria itis generally made without salt, making it an especially good partner to foods like salami. In Tuscany and Puglia bread is traditionally held in the crook of the arm and cut towards the chest. Not too many bread boards out in the fields! In the south, where white wheat bread is scarce, it was traditionally kept for the dying and for women just about to give birth. Throughout Italy, but particularly in the mountainous north, all sorts of superstitions surround the preparation and cooking of bread, and particularly when best to bake.
Traditionally, women followed their husbands to the tomb but slowly this was replaced by a symbolic cutting of a plait of hair which was laid in the grave in their place. As time passed this was replaced with a braid of bread which later evolved yet again to a donation of plaits of bread to the poor.
The symbolism of bread as a sign of plenty continues to imbue much of the Italian culture of eating, with bread as a representation of hospitality and welcome.