The town of Atessa has a long history, dating back to the Roman period, and archeological excavations have shown that figs have been grown here for millennia. In particular, the Reale (“royal”) variety, appreciated for at least two centuries, is perfect for drying. According to some historians, in 1320, Robert of Anjou, who ruled the Chieti and Lanciano area at the time, even imposed a tax on the dried figs produced in Atessa and traded by sea. The harvesting and drying period ranges from the middle of August to the end of September, depending on the weather. The Reale variety can be white- or red-fleshed and is slightly spherical, with a pale greenish-yellow skin and very juicy, honey-flavored flesh. The fruits are picked by hand in the early hours of the morning, one at a time, with a slight rotation of the fruit in order to keep the stalk intact. They are then laid on traditional drying racks made from small canes (cannizzi) tied together. They can be dried whole or partially cut in half, but they should not be completely opened up. Exposed to the sun during the day, covered by a net to keep insects off, in the evening they are stored somewhere sheltered and dry, to prevent humidity problems. This goes on for several days, until the figs are dried but still soft to the touch. At this point they are cut and stuffed with a walnut kernel, closed and baked for around 10 minutes. Once cool, they are again stored with bay leaves somewhere dark and dry. They are used as ingredients in several recipes: cookies, desserts, jams, but also breads and meat and fish dishes.
The fresh figs are harvested at the end of summer. The dried figs are sold after October 4 every year.
Hills in the Atessa, Torino di Sangro, Archi, Perano and Paglieta municipalities, Chieti province
Presidium supported by
Gal Maiella Verde
di Stefano Corinda
Contrada Da Piana Matteo, 55
Tel. 333 3623968
La Ruelle produces the dried Atessa reale fig, processing both the figs cultivated directly in the farm and those conferred by Concezio Candeloro, Andrea Cinalli, Siria Cinalli, Antonietta Cinalli, Giuseppe Giannico e Marco Rossi.