Reggiani Ancient Melon Varieties

Slow Food Presidium

Italy

Emilia Romagna

Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves

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Reggiani Ancient Melon Varieties

The cultivation of melons has a long tradition in the Reggio area. In the valleys farmed between Novellara, Guastalla and Santa Vittoria, it represented an integral source of income for agricultural workers and peasants, who sold them at local markets.
There are various types of melons (Cucumis melo): some are netted on the surface and belong to the reticulatus group; the cantalupensis, on the other hand, are smooth and have a flattened shape on each end, the inodorus have an elongated elliptical shape, a light scent and a great shelf life (they are also called winter melons). In the Reggio area, varieties of each of these types were grown, some have survived and are still available, although they are not easy to find.
The ramparine melon (which belongs to the reticulatus group), has a medium-small size, a very fragrant light green pulp and a strong and intense, almost spicy taste. It grows easily by climbing on nets and supports (hence the name). Several texts from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries mention a green climbing melon and in the libretto by Carlo Casali of 1915 “The names of plants in the Reggio dialect” a mlòun ramparèin appears. In the province of Rovigo, however, it was called “peverin”, due to its slightly spicy taste. This melon was once spread over a fairly large area along the Po valley. It was cultivated until the early 1970s – when it could still be found by fruit vendors -, it was abandoned in a short time due to two weak points: the poor resistance to the fusarium mould and the fact that the taste is not very sweet.
The toad melon (a cantalupensis) is the most interesting of the ancient melons and owes its peculiarity to its appearance which is similar to a pumpkin. Melons with this characteristic and with a bumpy and warty surface (hence the name "toad") appear in several Italian paintings between the 16th and 17th centuries, for example in the frescoes of Palazzo Tè, in Mantua, and are mentioned by Reggiano agronomist Filippo Re, in a document which dates back to 1811. They have a very particular taste, they are not very sweet, they are savoury and slightly spicy, a flavour that is much more intense than that of modern melons. Toad melons are excellent baked in the oven like peaches, with chocolate and macaroons.
The Santa Vittoria banana melon probably belongs to the inodorus group, that of late or winter melons, which have a better shelf life, but are rarely odorous, even if this ecotype has a more intense aroma than most melons, with a noticeable banana note. It has an elliptical shape, a thin skin and a whitish, sweet pulp.
The Lentigione banana melon, which perhaps belongs to the cantalupensis group, is the most mysterious of the ancient Reggio melons: its origins are unknown, it does not resemble any other Italian melon (it has nothing to do with the other varieties called bananas) and it was known only in the area between Brescello (Re) and Sorbolo (Pr). It is a round and smooth melon, with no ribbing and has a spotted dark green skin during growth, which turns yellow-orange when ripe. The pulp is whitish in colour, tender and sweet, if harvested when the melon is ripe. It has an intense and very pleasant aroma. Due to its flavour it is more suitable to be consumed as a fruit instead of being combined with savory dishes and cold cuts. It is also excellent for preparing artisanal sorbets.
All varieties prefer mixed clay soils. The preferred climate is that which is typical of the medium-lower Po Valley, cold and humid winters and hot and muggy summers. Sowing is traditionally carried out between the second half of March and the first half of April, after the rise and stabilisation of spring temperatures. To meet the high water requirements, producers resort to localized micro-flow irrigation under the mulch. The farms undertake organic farming practices.

Season

The melons can begin to be harvested at the end of June, through to July and with the majority becoming ripe in the first half of August. Excluding the Santa Vittoria banana melon, which has a shelf life of a few months, the other varieties must be consumed within a few days of harvesting.

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Widespread until the second half of the last century, today the cultivation of traditional melons is limited to small areas for family use or for the local market. A more specialized production has developed since the 1970s, when American hybrid varieties such as Harper, Supermarket, Burpee and Sweet rock appeared. These varieties have a more uniform ripening, guarantee high productivity, a very constant quality, a high sugar content and above all a long shelf life. All the characteristics appreciated in a market system dominated by the rules of large organised distribution chains. The ancient Reggian Ancient melons varieties, on the other hand, have characteristics that do not match well with transport and spending a long time on supermarket shelves. They have a short maturation interval, and generally a poor shelf life, they will only last for a few days if refrigerated.
Thanks to the recovery and selection of seeds carried out by the A. Zanelli Institute of Higher Education in Reggio Emilia, today the production of the ancient melons has been taken up once again by some farmers in the Reggio area (and also north of the Po). The Presidium was created to support them, to promote these melons in the local area and to encourage local consumption of these ancient varieties. The Zanelli Institute deals with the conservation of seeds, both in situ (with periodic reproduction of seeds in the field) and ex situ (in the germplasm bank).

Production area
Plains and foothill areas in the province of Reggio Emilia, and neighbouring plains and foothills in the provinces of Parma, Cremona and Mantua.

Supported by
The Ministry of Labour and Social Policies*

Emil Banca - Cooperative Credit

The Presidium of the Reggian Ancient melons varieties is funded by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, General Directorate of the Tertiary Sector and Corporate Social Responsibility - Notice No. 1/2018 "Slow Food in action: communities as protagonists of change", pursuant to Article 72 of the Tertiary Sector Code, referred to in Legislative Decree No. 117/2017

Producers

Azienda agraria annessa all’Istituto Superiore Antonio Zanelli
Via Fratelli Rosselli, 41
Reggio Emilia
itazanelli@itazanellli.it

Badessa
di Alberto Ruozzi
Via Case Secchia, 2 A
Casalgrande (Re)
Tel. +39 333 7486418
info@ristorantebadessa.it
www.ristorantebadessa.it

La Buona Terra
di Valerio Maramotti
Via Sant’Ambrogio, 22
Reggio Emilia
Tel. +39 328 7695155
info@labuonaterra.bio

Cà Vecchia
di Lorenzo Cavalli
Via Case Sparse, 10
Valle di Casalmaggiore (Cr)
Tel. +39 331 4128084
info@casavecchiabio.com
www.cavecchiabio.com

Camurein
di Paolo Morini
Via Monsignor Oscar Amulfo Romero
Calerno (Re)
Tel. +39 347 7183028
camurein@gmail.com

Lucia Ferraroni
Via Sacchi, 7
Reggio Emilia
Tel. +39 348 4203491
lucia.ferraroni59@gmail.com
www.ortodiluciabio.it

La Lucerna
di Pietro Ghirardini
Via 25 Aprile, 48
Campegine (Re)
Tel. +39 345 2567229
info@cooplalucerna.it
www.cooplalucerna.it

La Pedrocca
di Catia Musi
Via Vegri, 20
Guastalla (Re)
Tel. +39 393 472 5555
lapedrocca@libero.it

Prati al Sole
di Simone Rocchelli
Via Agricola, 2
Pratissolo Scandiano (Re)
Tel. +39328 1174075
pratialsole@gmail.com
www.pratialsole.com

Terra e Anyma
di Andrea Crema
Via Garfagnana, 10
Campagnola Emilia (Re)
Tel. +39393 0675477
terraeanyma@gmail.com
Slow Food Presidium Coordinator
Mirco Marconi
Tel. +39 347 4378105
mirco.marconi@zanelli.edu.it

Producers Coordinator
Daniele Galli
Tel. +39 340 6483701
daniele.galli@zanelli.edu.it
Widespread until the second half of the last century, today the cultivation of traditional melons is limited to small areas for family use or for the local market. A more specialized production has developed since the 1970s, when American hybrid varieties such as Harper, Supermarket, Burpee and Sweet rock appeared. These varieties have a more uniform ripening, guarantee high productivity, a very constant quality, a high sugar content and above all a long shelf life. All the characteristics appreciated in a market system dominated by the rules of large organised distribution chains. The ancient Reggian Ancient melons varieties, on the other hand, have characteristics that do not match well with transport and spending a long time on supermarket shelves. They have a short maturation interval, and generally a poor shelf life, they will only last for a few days if refrigerated.
Thanks to the recovery and selection of seeds carried out by the A. Zanelli Institute of Higher Education in Reggio Emilia, today the production of the ancient melons has been taken up once again by some farmers in the Reggio area (and also north of the Po). The Presidium was created to support them, to promote these melons in the local area and to encourage local consumption of these ancient varieties. The Zanelli Institute deals with the conservation of seeds, both in situ (with periodic reproduction of seeds in the field) and ex situ (in the germplasm bank).

Production area
Plains and foothill areas in the province of Reggio Emilia, and neighbouring plains and foothills in the provinces of Parma, Cremona and Mantua.

Supported by
The Ministry of Labour and Social Policies*

Emil Banca - Cooperative Credit

The Presidium of the Reggian Ancient melons varieties is funded by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, General Directorate of the Tertiary Sector and Corporate Social Responsibility - Notice No. 1/2018 "Slow Food in action: communities as protagonists of change", pursuant to Article 72 of the Tertiary Sector Code, referred to in Legislative Decree No. 117/2017

Producers

Azienda agraria annessa all’Istituto Superiore Antonio Zanelli
Via Fratelli Rosselli, 41
Reggio Emilia
itazanelli@itazanellli.it

Badessa
di Alberto Ruozzi
Via Case Secchia, 2 A
Casalgrande (Re)
Tel. +39 333 7486418
info@ristorantebadessa.it
www.ristorantebadessa.it

La Buona Terra
di Valerio Maramotti
Via Sant’Ambrogio, 22
Reggio Emilia
Tel. +39 328 7695155
info@labuonaterra.bio

Cà Vecchia
di Lorenzo Cavalli
Via Case Sparse, 10
Valle di Casalmaggiore (Cr)
Tel. +39 331 4128084
info@casavecchiabio.com
www.cavecchiabio.com

Camurein
di Paolo Morini
Via Monsignor Oscar Amulfo Romero
Calerno (Re)
Tel. +39 347 7183028
camurein@gmail.com

Lucia Ferraroni
Via Sacchi, 7
Reggio Emilia
Tel. +39 348 4203491
lucia.ferraroni59@gmail.com
www.ortodiluciabio.it

La Lucerna
di Pietro Ghirardini
Via 25 Aprile, 48
Campegine (Re)
Tel. +39 345 2567229
info@cooplalucerna.it
www.cooplalucerna.it

La Pedrocca
di Catia Musi
Via Vegri, 20
Guastalla (Re)
Tel. +39 393 472 5555
lapedrocca@libero.it

Prati al Sole
di Simone Rocchelli
Via Agricola, 2
Pratissolo Scandiano (Re)
Tel. +39328 1174075
pratialsole@gmail.com
www.pratialsole.com

Terra e Anyma
di Andrea Crema
Via Garfagnana, 10
Campagnola Emilia (Re)
Tel. +39393 0675477
terraeanyma@gmail.com
Slow Food Presidium Coordinator
Mirco Marconi
Tel. +39 347 4378105
mirco.marconi@zanelli.edu.it

Producers Coordinator
Daniele Galli
Tel. +39 340 6483701
daniele.galli@zanelli.edu.it

Territory

StateItaly
RegionEmilia Romagna