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Home Activities Fruits of Its Earth

Fruits of Its Earth

Verona and the Fruits of Its Earth

The province of Verona is a land of ancient traditions. The products of the earth from this area reflect a century-long history of cultivation. However, it is from Roman times that, between the hills and the shores of the Garda lake, sweet and juicy fruits are grown.

All year round, it is easy to find crispy and sweet Verona apples. They come in many varieties, ranging from Golden and Red Delicious to Fuji apples. In Zevio, the “Festa della mela”, or Apple festival, has been held for over 50 years. The event was started to celebrate the local cultivation of apples, which may now be large scale, but has never abandoned its traditions and its roots in the earth.

In the summer, it's time for Verona PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) peaches and nectarines. They are nurtured by the Garda lake's temperate climate and strictly protected by a consortium. Their richly colored skins can be 'velvety' or smooth; their flesh, be it yellow or white, tastes sweet.

Maybe not as well known, because it is rare and tied to ancient peasant rituals, is the Lessinia 'Misso' pear. For this reason, it is now a Slow Food Presidium. The fruits are small, and they are picked at the end of the summer, when they are still hard and tart, to be left to ripen in a cellar. During the winter, the pears become dark and sweet – in the local dialect, 'misso' refers to fruit which has gone beyond what would be the normal ripeness achieved on the plant.

However, Verona is also known as a leading province in the production of cherries. They are hand-picked in the hills around the city and are available only in June and July.

The mountain areas of Monte Baldo gift the province of Verona with a very high quality product: the San Zeno DOP chestnut.

For over forty years, every October it has been showcased at a festival in San Zeno di Montagna. It was awarded DOP (Protected Denomination of Origin) status in 2003, also because of the traditional techniques employed: the burrs and fruits are first piled together and left in the open for about two weeks, then the chestnuts are immersed in water for nine days. Their sweet flesh is a treat even if they are simply boiled in water, or tasted in the famous 'marronata', a delicious traditional chestnut jam.

From November to March, in the woods and mountains around Verona another fruit of the earth grows spontaneously. The Monte Baldo black truffle flourishes in natural truffle-grounds, and, during the winter, it enriches dishes in Verona's kitchens and little restaurants with its unmistakable aroma

An almost obvious choice is to match truffles and the perfect risotti of the Veneto tradition. Their history is tied to an ingredient which is by now recognized as a well-established excellence from the area.

The Nano Vialone Veronese rice is the only variety in Europe to hold the IGP mark since 1996. This rice is grown on land rich in silt, sand and very pure water. Its cultivation is long and labour-intensive: it begins in spring and requires patient waiting until autumn for the perfect harvest, which is uniform and free from any chemical treatment.

Since 1967 this rice has been the star of the Fiera del Riso or Rice Fair in Isola della Scala, an event which attracts international guests and offers the chance to discover the most important rice mills in the world. A further important contribution to making Nano Vialone rice known has come from the Strada del riso Vialone Nano veronese IGP association (the organization behind the Vialone Nano Rice Route), which was founded to ensure that this prestigious product never becomes separated from its territory, the Bassa veronese (Verona's lowlands).

Here, as well as rice and the Verona strawberry, another IGP product is grown, Verona red chicory.

It is a descendant of Trevisano chicory, but it is somewhat rounder in shape. Its leaves are dark red, crisp and slightly bitter. Whether raw or cooked, from October to March it is a constant presence in traditional dishes and at the fairs in Casaleone and Roveredo di Gua'.

Further reading:

Festivals:

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