“Guadagnarsi il pane” means “To earn one’s salary” in Italian, i.e. one’s living. Bread is a metaphor for all that is good and worthwhile in life. If a young lady is very good looking, an appreciative male in Rome will still describe her being attractive as “bona quanto il pane” i.e. as good as bread. It is still considered almost a crime in Italy to throw bread away … in memory of all the hunger that was suffered by so much of the population in the course of history, even relatively recent history. Bread was so scarce at one point during the second world war, that my grandmother would slice out whatever ration could be eaten of an evening, and then put the rest of the loaf inside a pillow case and sew it — to prevent anyone from the temptation of grabbing some bread that wasn’t due to them by the rationing. And, later when food was abundant again, if ever she did have to throw some bread away, she would kiss it first.
If there is a little bread left over, it can be processed to make bread crumbs. Or one can make crostini with it (slices of bread with a topping of mozzarella and prosciutto, say, which get toasted in the oven for a few minutes). Stale bread is used to make meatballs — all you have to do is dunk it in milk or broth before using it. Soups are made with stale bread too: la pappa col pomodoro or il pancotto. In summer, panzanella is a favourite use for stale bread.
I had same focaccia left over and decided that it counted as bread, i.e. that I couldn’t dispense of it with nonchalance. So I made an oven-based dish with it, with tomato sauce (passata di pomodoro), mozzarella, and spring onions. Accompanied by a nice salad of lamb’s lettuce, walnuts and fried guanciale (pork jowl that is used the same way as pancetta), it made for quite the rustic supper, tasted good and made me feel uncommonly thrifty.