Italia Piccioli Ciampolini

The biscuits Queen of United Italy

Italia Piccioli Ciampolini

Italia Piccioli was born in Prato in 1863, and her name is a tribute to unified Italy. A formidable and proud woman, as you can see in this photo from the early years of the last century. She is undoubtedly partly responsible for the successful history of the ancient Mattei bakery, which she co-managed with her husband Egisto Ciampolini in 1904. We know she was tough and independent, thrifty yet also generous, supported by a vigilant and practical intelligence. At the beginning of the last century, she invented the recipe for “Brutti Buoni” biscuits. Thanks to her practicality and entrepreneurial spirit, she would contribute to making history at the Mattei company. She dedicated herself to the biscuit factory until 1920 when the factory passed entirely into the hands of Ernesto Pandolfini. She died in October 1921 at the age of 58.

Italia Piccioli Ciampolini

The creation of the Brutti Buoni recipe is attributed to her. Not only excellent but also very useful for using up the egg whites discarded during the production of the Prato Biscuits with almonds. So Italia invents and puts into production the new “brutti buoni” biscuits to try to reduce waste. An attitude that in that era was simply seen as necessary, ethical, but at the same time managed to become an advantageous prodecure for the company. Here lies the spirit of the entrepreneur of the early last century.

Italia Piccioli Ciampolini

Furthermore, during research for the exhibition material carried out at the Roncioniana Library in Prato (a stone’s throw from the Antonio Mattei Biscuit Factory) and at the Lazzerini Library, we also made a new super interesting discovery. In some local newspapers from the early 1900s, we found advertisements for the Biscuit Factory.

Among the various products advertised, in addition to bread, pastries, Cantucci, Biscuits, and Pasta Regina, there were also the “Brutti Buoni” recently created by Italia.

Her foresight and enterprise thus materialized in her actions, which today are defined as ‘company marketing’ and ‘sustainability’ for attention to ‘no waste’ and ‘reuse’, both very current themes today, but just think about how innovative they must have been...

For the Brutti Buoni recipe and for being a good role model to look up to thanks “aunt Italia”!
From your great grand children.

Letizia Pandolfini

P.S. During this period and until July 28th, you can learn more by visiting the Photographic Exhibition set up at our Bottega Museum in Florence at Via Porta Rossa 76/R. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm, reservation is recommended for groups, call +39 055 0136203, or write to

Admission is free, and you will also be greeted with a gift as a NICE surprise... or perhaps better to say a “Brutta Buona”!!!