When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, volcanic ash was deposited on the surrounding area, leaving elevated levels of potassium and other essential micronutrients in the soil. This territory, which is characterized by a mild climate, is home to the canario bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), a legume that has been cultivated for several generations in Schito (an area in Castellamare di Stabia) and some parts of the Lattari Mountains.
The canario bean is yellow to deep orange with green hues and has a subspherical to oval shape. The pods contain four to six beans. It is an annual herbaceous plant that reaches a height of up to 60 centimeters. It has one main stalk and multiple lateral branches, and its leaves are heart shaped. The flowers are white and shaped like a butterfly.
Canario beans are cultivated from April until the first harvest in July, and then from July to October, when the second crop is harvested. The beans are often alternated with rows of local artichokes, which are planted in July. The pods are harvested manually, tied in bundles, and hung outside to dry. Once dry, they are beaten with an artisanal tool called a vevillo, which is handed down from generation to generation. The beans are then sorted using sieves of different sizes, and placed in sacks.
Like other legumes, the canario bean has a strong link to local tradition because, for centuries, it was the only readily available source of protein for rural people. It has a thick skin and a particular consistency, and is usually consumed in salads, soups, or traditional dishes such pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans) and fagioli con scarole (beans with escarole).Back to the archive >