The Anacapri cicerchia (Lathyrus sativus) is a small legume from the island of Capri. It has a slightly flat, pointed shape and a yellow-grey color with subtle darker veins on its edges. It is smaller than cicerchia varieties from other parts of Italy, and is adapted to growing in drier soil.
On Capri, cicerchia is planted between March and April and harvested in July and August, when the plants have dried. The plants are 30-60 centimeters tall and produce pods that contain two or three seeds. The seeds are extracted by beating the dried pods. The seeds have an irregular shape; no two are identical. The flowers are blue with purple hues, and the seeds are yellow. Anacapri cicerchia can grow in poor-quality soil, which contributes to the small size of the seeds, especially in dry years. In years with heavy rainfall, the production capacity of Anacapri cicerchia is reduced, as the plant uses its energy to produce larger leaves instead of flowers and seeds.
Traditionally, Anacapri cicerchie are cultivated on sloping, terraced land that faces southwest, as few other crops can grow in these areas. Sometimes it grows with lupins, which block the wind. Mechanical cultivation on the island is difficult, so most of the farm work is done manually. Anacapri cicerchie are preserved in glass jars with bay leaves and grains of black pepper. They have a flavor similar to that of peas and chickpeas and are considered a light legume that is easy to digest. Anacapri cicerchie are not consumed fresh: They are dried and must be left to soak for 12 hours in water before being consumed. When cooked, the beans develop a creamy texture. They are eaten on their own or with salad, potatoes, or pasta.
Over the years, Anacapri cicerchia cultivation has been progressively abandoned due to farmers changing the use of their terraces to suit tourist activity. Today there are just over ten producers left.