Lo Sdijuno – Abruzzo’s Healthy Eating Fasting Diet

Sagnette e FagioliIf you are one of those people that races home to eat a weighty bowl of pasta before sleeping and laments  on why Italians can remain skinny when eating so many carbohydrates you’ve probably not heard of Abruzzo’s ‘Lo Sdijuno’!  

Lo Sdijuno was the traditional, hearty meal eaten in the fields and groves between 10.30 and 11 am that would consist of bread, cheese, ham, salami, eggs, omelettes with peppers, a  simply dressed homemade pasta, and calorific wine.   Most of the rural population would have been up by 5.30  in the summer and 6.30 in the autumn and winter,  had a small nibble for breakfast before making their way out up to the ‘land’. They didn’t own it but rented it being subsistence farmers.  They would eat what would appear to many a  frugal dinner of either vegetables or salad, a soup or a dish like ‘pizza and foje’, a super light corn thin pizza crust cooked in the fireplace under a lid accompanied by lots of refried wild chicory, mixed vegetables, and herbs and go to bed.

For those that follow the now popular intermittent fasting 16/8  hr diets of today, which have been so successful in reducing Diabetes 2 for those that suffer, you will no doubt see the similarities and realise your ‘fasting diet’ is nothing new. The word ‘Sdijuno’ stems from the word for fast in dialect. It’s a style of intelligent eating that recognises the rhythm of our metabolism and activities over the day and ensures we eat accordingly.  Why eat a plate of carbohydrates last thing at night, that our bodies will not burn off as we sleep on and rather turn to fat!  Its influence on when to eat particular foods today remains in place today you would find it a hard task to find many Italians eating large bowls of pasta at home in the evening!

Most of those aged between 90 and 100 in Abruzzo today still follow this style of eating as outlined by Professor Mauro Serafini, Professor of Food and Human Nutrition at the Faculty of Biosciences of the University of Teramo in his‘Centenari’ Study.  His model showed the high rates of longevity within villages in Gran Sasso, Majella and Marsica Parks were not just due to environmental and genetic factors but nutrition and the rite of eating what is known as  Lo Sdijuno.

Routes and More have shared two typical seasonal recipes from the area around Lanciano  (CH) that would be eaten for Lo Sdijuno, including one that was traditionally eaten when harvesting the olives.

Sagnette e Fagioli

Sagne e Fagioli

Routes and More
Course Primo
Cuisine Italian


  • 400 g 400 g of Durum Wheat Semolina Flour
  • 400 g Borlotti beans, fresh or dried
  • 700 g Passata
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 1 Stalk Celery
  • Salt to Taste
  • Olive Oil to Taste


  • Soak the beans the day before if they are dry. Boil them for an hour, drain and
    set them aside
  • Pour the flour on the pastry board and create a dough with warm water and a pinch of salt, until a firm dough is obtained.
    Once the dough is made, make thin sheets; roll out the pasta by hand and cut the sagne into the shape of strips one cm wide and five in length. Put them on a tray, dust them with flour to prevent them from sticking, and let them rest.
  • Slice the onion and coarsely chop the celery, put together with the oil and tomato and saute for 20 minutes till thick. Add the beans and a ladle of water; leave to gently simmer for 10 minutes before leaving to sit.
  • Once the sauce is cooked, bring the water to a boil, add salt, and cook the sagne for 4/5 minutes, stirring often.
    Drain, reserving the pasta water, and add the sauce to the sagne pasta in the pan, Add up to 2 ladles of the pasta cooking water to ensure the sauce is light and fully dresses the pasta. Serve hot with peperoncino
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Pizza e foje

Routes and More
This is a Cucina Povera recipe, in which traditionally the vegetables and herbs used would grow uncultivated in the fields and be foraged. It is enriched with salted anchovies or sardines. There is no single recipe, because it varies according to needs, the season and leftovers that needed to be disposed of. According to tradition, the corn pizza should be cooked on a tile in the fireplace, covered with an iron lid over which the embers are placed to cook it.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2


  • 200 g Corn Flour used for Polenta
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 6 Salted Sardines
  • 500 g Green leaf vegetables: rape, chard, chicory, borage, sow thistles or cabbage.
  • 3 Potatoes
  • Boiling Water
  • Abruzzese Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Coarsely chopped Altino sweet chili pepper


  • Pour the cornmeal into a bowl, add the boiling water a little at a time and mix to avoid the formation of lumps; knead gently so that you have a soft consistency.
  • Pour the mixture into an earthenware pot lined with parchment paper and bake at 180 ° for 20 minutes.
  • Clean the vegetables and blanch them for about 20 minutes. In a pan add oil and add 2 whole cloves of garlic and chilli, sauté without letting the garlic burn and add the previously blanched vegetables, leave to infuse for about 10 minutes. In another pan pour some oil, lay the sardines and brown for 1 minute, remove from heat and leave to rest on a plate.
  • Cut the pizza and serve it separately or crumbled into the dish with the vegetables.
Keyword pizza, abruzzo, vegetables, cucina povera
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Sam Dunham
Author: Sam Dunham

Sam is a very lucky midlife 'mamma' to A who is 12 and juggles her work as a self-employed freelance SEO food and travel copywriter and EFL teacher. She is the founder of the Life In Abruzzo Cultural Association, co-founder of Let's Blog Abruzzo. she is the founder of the 'English in the Woods' initiative, teaching English outdoors in a forest style school.

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