Like the French word crouton, the Italian crostino comes from the Latin root crusta, the same word that gives us crust in English.
And like the croutons that we throw in our salads here in the U.S., the Tuscan crostino is one of those classic Italian methods for getting “extra mileage” out of stale bread.
The difference in Tuscany is that the bread there is made without the addition of salt. As a result, it is the toppings for the Tuscans’ crostini that gives them their flavor: sautéed and olive oil-cured mushrooms; creamy pâtè; and traditional Italian tomato sauce.
In his Divine Comedy, Dante’s grandfather Cacciaguida predicts Dante’s exile from the Tuscan city state of Florence and tells him:
And thou shalt taste how salty is the bread of other men…