The Yellow Pearls of Lake Bolsena
There is a high concentration of manufactured goods around the lake area. ‘Smooth-grooved Valentino Chickpeas” (Cece dal solco dritto), Alto Viterbese Potatoes (Patata dell’Alto Viterbese), and white haricot beans (Fagiolo del Purgatorio), to name a few. The region is reputed for its wine and olive oil and is also a thriving fishing area.
Thriving in nature, art, history and a dietary culture unique to the region; Lake Bolsena lies in the Alta Tuscia district situated in Northern Lazio. The lake was formed three hundred thousand years ago when a nearby volcano erupted, and is Europe’s largest volcano-formed crater lake. It is oval shaped, and has two islands in the centre, Bisentina and Martana. It is also characterised by its vibrant and varied fauna, and numerous rocky outcrops within the lake itself. The lake’s beauty is captivating, and various European artists have sought inspiration there. Most notable are the Italian poet Petrarch, the German writer Goethe, the British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner and the German composer Hector Berlioz.
Wine and Cuisine
80% of the local economy depends on regional tourism, the majority being based on agrotourism. The region is perfect for farming and produces delightful wines and olive oils with little acidity. This olive oil is a very high quality product and is produced small scale within the area. The area is also blessed with delicious varieties of beans. The ‘smooth-grooved’ Valentano chickpea (Cece dal solco dritto di Valentano named after Valentano village and its tradition of chickpea cultivation), lentils of Onano (Lenticchia di Onano) and also haricot beans. Lake Bolsena’s fishing practices also have a long-rooted tradition, and is known for its catches of coregonus (coregone – a freshwater fish related to the salmon) and Bolsena eels (anguille di Bolsena).
The Yellow Pearls of the Lake
The haricot beans have been cultivated in a region near the lake, known as Alto Viterbese, even before any records of their production existed. It’s said that the combination of the fertile volcanic land and the traditional cultivation methods impart a unique savoury taste to the beans and make them quick to soften when cooked. Furthermore in 2004, potatoes grown in Alto Viterbese region were marked as having PGI (Protected Geographical Indication). There are many varieties all grown north of the lake: Monalisa, Amber, Agata, Vivaldi, Finka, Marabel, Universa, Chopin, Arizona and Agria. The potatoes are oval shaped, between four to seven and a half centimetres thick, and their jackets are yellow like freshly made pasta. There is great cultural importance in these potatoes and the surrounding area as we can see from their use in many local traditional recipes.
For example, “minestra con l’orloge” (literally “soup with watches”, so-called because of the shape in which the potatoes are cut) and pasta with potatoes. There is also a frittata omelette, which uses neither the quintessential egg nor cheese in its ingredients, but ground chickpeas in their place.
Artecibo editorial board
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