Old 01-26-2007, 06:38 AM
james's Avatar
Brick Oven Merchant
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Pebble Beach, CA
Posts: 4,648
Default Tuscan and Naples designs

There has been some good discussion on the two oven dome designs recently, so I thought I would write up a summary of the advantages of each design. Also, I have re-written the Oven Dome page to lower the target interior dome height for the oven to 14.5" for the 36" oven and 15.5" for the 42" oven (which is what the Casa ovens are). When the first few low dome ovens are built, I would like to include photos and descriptions of the technique for setting the course of cut bricks that set the inward angle.

This should help answer some of the questions new builders might be asking themselves.

And as always, I want to point out that there is no right or wrong Italian oven design, and express my concern (again ) over the shouting that there is only one real Italian oven and that everybody else has it wrong. It's not true, and it is bad for everyone. And it does not help people who are looking to learn, or build a great back yard oven, or install an oven in a pizzeria.

Here goes:

The Tuscan oven has a higher dome and as a result of the larger volume of the oven chamber, it can have a larger opening and still hold heat. That opening makes it easier (or even possible) to put large roasts and wider baking pans in the oven. Also, there is a larger air space in the dome, above the oven opening, that holds heat. In a 42" backyard oven, the internal dome height is about 19"-20", and the opening height is about 12", leaving 7"+ inches of space for heat storage. That is why the oven is better at retaining heat for baking and roasting, and will use less wood while cooking.

The Naples oven has a dome height of about 15" and an opening of about 11", leaving less of a cushion. The roots of the Tuscan oven goes back to the zillions (a technical term) of brick ovens you see throughout the Tuscan countryside that were the primary family oven. It's a general purpose oven, but it can also cook Pizza Napoletana. There are restaurants with the higher dome oven consistently cooking 90 second pizzas at 800F.

The Naples oven has a lower dome and consequently smaller oven opening. While it is not as efficient as the Tuscan oven, it is know for its ability to make pizza. The lower dome is more efficient at bouncing heat from the fire and reflecting heat from the refactory dome down on the cooking floor. My own unscientific analysis, through talking with home owners and from looking around the countryside, is that there are fewer residential pizza ovens in the countryside around Naples. But I think that is more of a historical and economic artifact than anything else. Also, there are a handful of oven builders in Bari, in the south, but on the east cast, and they make the high dome oven as well.

Plus, the Naples oven does a great job of baking and roasting as well.

I'm a stuck-record on this, but I'll say it again -- you can't go wrong with either oven. The different between having a wood-fired oven and not having a wood-fired oven is huge, enormous, either for a homeowner or a restauant. It makes all the difference in the world. Once you get that far, the differences between the two ovens really are really very small. The difference between a barrel vault oven and a round Italian oven are huge compared with the differences between the two Italian ovens.

Hope I didn't bore you with this -- and I hope it is helpful, especially for folks starting to research this for the first time.


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Last edited by james; 03-25-2007 at 08:04 AM.
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Old 01-26-2007, 08:58 AM
maver's Avatar
Master Builder
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Puyallup, WA
Posts: 571
Default Re: Tuscan and Naples designs

So the oven I built, with an 42" diameter and 18" dome height (based on the 'old' FB Pompeii Neapolitan plans) is really a hybrid. I'll just consider it the best of both worlds . I look forward to feedback here as these two more aggressively low dome ovens are built. I certainly did not find any difficulty with my dome construction even without forms - it was the easiest brick oven I've ever built. I imagine there is greater risk with a lower dome that outward force will not balance gravitational force. Buttressing or other reinforcement around the soldiers might be helpful. I wonder if the picture of the falling brick from the dome of a brick oven posted about four-six months ago on the Pizzamaking.com site was a low dome or a high dome oven?
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Old 02-21-2007, 04:30 AM
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Location: Orange, Massachusetts
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Default Re: Tuscan and Naples designs

Thanks James, a very lucid comparison of the two designs. It makes me think I may go toward the Tuscan style since I'm less exclusively interested in pizza, good as it is.

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Old 01-24-2011, 03:22 PM
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Location: DFW area, USA
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Thumbs up Tuscan and Naples designs revealed

I was reading some older threads to access some of the treasures lurking in the corporate memory here on Forno Bravo. The Tuscan style dome's increased heat holding capacity is the way I want to go.

This is an important thread for people who are planning their ovens!

We're laying the oven floor this week, and I will raise my dome height to take advantage of the Tuscan dome heat holding characteristics, and do the bread/roast/turkey baking I want to do in addition to the pizza baking.

After reading the simple explanation above, I'll change my dome gauge before I do the dome and make it an inch or three higher than I was planning.

Thanks James

P.S. I'm looking for James' oven and BBQ build thread....I want to ask about his oven arch shape, it looked a little nonstandard to me and it may be more efficient than a regular arch. Anyone know where that build thread is? Thanks dmun, that is the thread. I don't want to hijack this thread, so I'll take it up elsewhere.
Lee B.
DFW area, Texas, USA

If you are thinking about building a brick oven, my advice is
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Our One Meter Pompeii Oven album is
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An album showing our Thermal Breaks is
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I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up.
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Last edited by Lburou; 01-24-2011 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 01-24-2011, 04:12 PM
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Location: New Jersey USA
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Default Re: Tuscan and Naples designs

I'm looking for James' oven and BBQ build thread
I think James' oven was an FB Artigeneo pre-built oven that was damaged in transit, and repaired. I seem to recall there aren't detailed pictures of the process because his vendor didn't want proprietary methods disclosed.

In any event, I think this is the thread in question.

http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f35/...lace-3305.html (Time to finish the oven; add fireplace)
My geodesic oven project:
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Old 09-11-2011, 04:53 PM
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Location: Philadelphia
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Default Re: Tuscan and Naples designs

As someone who has is preparing to build a 42" pompeii oven and enjoys making sourdough bread, the only issue I have with a 19" to 20" height is that moisture may be lost that is critical to getting that oven spring necessary for sourdoughs. Alan Scott ovens, which are focused on bread baking have a 16" height. I may settle for a compromise, and go with an 18" height to maintain structural integrity.
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