A beautiful basket of well-ripened Pizzutello grapes, covered with fresh vine leaves, is one of the most precious gifts for the people of Tiburtina to offer to their guests. It is a pulpy, crunchy table grape, with elongated berries, a very thin skin and a pale green colour.
This singular grape, which the people of Tiburtina have nicknamed the "uva corna" (horned grape) due to the curved shape of its berries, is native to a small area of Tivoli, where the species has found its ideal environment on the characteristic pergolas.
The origins of the Pizzutello grape are not clear. Pliny the Elder, in "Naturalis Historia", mentions a type of grape grown in the territory of Tivoli and Pompeii that seems to be ascribable to the Pizzutello, while other sources identify it as a variety imported from France by Cardinal Ippolito d’Este and transplanted to Tivoli in the sixteenth century. Numerous documents created by travellers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries testify how the pergolas not only adorned the Villa d’Este but were also present in the land between the "Orti" and "Tartaro" districts crossed by the homonymous streets, of which the first is actually via Tiburtina Antica. To understand how much this grape has taken root in the local culture, it is already enough just to know that on the occasion of the jubilee of bishop Leo XIII (1878-1903) Tivoli offered the Pope an artistic boat, decorated with several hundreds of kilos of Pizzutello, while more than 400 kilos were used to create the magnificent papal coat of arms offered by the people of Tiburtina to Pius X (1903-1914) on the occasion of the priestly jubilee.
The favourable environmental conditions, with a dry climate in the summer and mild weather in the winter, have allowed for the cultivation of the Pizzutello grape, which occupied around 120 hectares of land after World War II. Outside of this patch of landscape bathed by the channelled canals of the Aniene river, the Pizzutello grape of Tivoli cannot express itself with those characteristics of refinement and distinction that have long been recognized.
Simple agronomic practices are required for the cultivation of Pizzutello grapes: fertilisation is done with mature manure, weeding operations are mechanical, while organic or biodynamic practices are used to protect against parasites. It is not planted in rows, but in pergolas and how the ground on which they are built is levelled is very important. The framework is traditionally made up of chestnut support poles (forcinotti) that hold the sleepers on which the rods rest. The ties with which the reeds are fixed are made of a local herb (Ampelodesmus mauritanicus) called “cartica” in the Tiburtina dialect. The irrigation technique is based on the principle of water flooding down an incline: the basic component is a square called a "tavola"; the water derived from the canals flows between one tavola and another.
The Pizzutello grape of Tivoli ripens in September and is consumed as it is.
Pizzutello grapes are harvested in September.
The value of Pizzutello grape, in fact, is not only linked to the grape, but to its ability to characterise and redevelop this patch of irrigated landscape. Unfortunately, over the years, due to lack of affordability and lack of manpower, the chestnut poles have been replaced by concrete support poles, and the reeds have been replaced with iron wire, which, when heated by the summer sun, damages the plants.
For this reason, the Presidium, in addition to defending the production of the grape, works to ensure that traditional pergolas are recovered and restored. Together with the local Slow Food convivium, AIAPP, the Italian Association of Landscape Architecture (Lazio Abruzzo Molise and Sardinia Section) is involved in the recovery work, with the belief that the only way to redevelop the landscape is to return to cultivating the Pizzutello grape and to rebuild pergolas according to the methods and principles of the conservation of our agricultural landscapes.
Municipality of Tivoli
The Ministry of Labour and Social Policies
The Pizuttello Grape of Tivoli Presidium is financed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, Directorate General 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
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