I just returned from a week in Rome. I'll limit myself to commenting only on the bread and pizza or this entry would go on way too long!
I was gratified that some of the standard breads served at most evey trattoria and restaurant looked, smelled, and tasted almost identical to Tartine's country loaf or Vermont Sourdough. We didn't have one crumb of bad bread the whole week.
One of the more famous bread bakeries in Rome is in the Campo de' Fiori. It is Forno Campo de' Fiori and it's known for having the best Pizza Bianca in the city. If you don't know this product, Pizza Bianca is sort of a cross between thin crust pizza and focaccia, topped only with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. They bake it as six-foot long rectangular pizzas and sell it by weight. You indicate how big a piece you want and the baker cuts you the appropriate sized rectangle, folds it in half so the bottom crust is on the outside, wraps it in a piece of wax paper and hands it to you. You eat it as you walk. This pizza deserves all of its fame and praise.
Deaniel Leader has a recipe for this very Pizza Bianca in his book Local Breads. I made it today. The flavor is very similar to what I ate in Rome, and the crunch when you cut and bite into it is spot on. However my version, while not thick like focaccia still came out twice as thick as the genuine article. In addition, after a couple of minutes in the oven huge bubbles baked up, which I pierced with the point of a sharp knife to deflate them. I'm certain they don't do this at Forno Campo de' Fiori.
Have any of you baked Leaders' version? If so, what was your experience? If anyone has advice or ideas for how to avoid these bubbles, please share. As for the thickness, I know the common advice would be to stretch the dough thinner on the peel, but I strectched it as thin as I could without tearing.