The solco dritto chickpea has been cultivated in Acquapendente and Valentano, in the province of Viterbo, since the time of the Etruscans. It seems that, in Medieval times, the flour made from this variety was used in Val di Lago for making bread, and that the duties and taxes imposed on chickpea production were only slightly less than those paid for grain. The solco dritto chickpea has long been part of the traditional gastronomy of Viterbo, and dishes made from this legume are an essential part of lunch on Christmas Eve day.
The solco dritto chickpea has smooth, yellow-beige skin. Its name comes from an antique farming tradition: “La tiratura del solco dritto” (solco dritto means “straight furrow”) is an event that happens on the 14th of August in the plain bellow the city of Valentano, during which a long furrow is made across the field. This used to be done with an ox-drawn plow, while today it is done with a tractor. A straight furrow brings good luck for the following year’s harvest.
The soil in which the solco dritto chickpea is cultivated has volcanic origins, high levels of potassium, and a low presence of calcium. The fields are located 300-400 meters above sea level in hilly terrain. The nearby Lake Bolsena contributes to the mild climate of the are. The chickpeas are sown in February and harvested in July, and usually consumed in the winter months. They are a fundamental ingredient for salads and soups. During the Christmas season, they are eaten with chestnuts.