The small village of Vallepietra lies in the heart of the Monti Simbruini park, at around 800 meters above sea level. This farming center was founded in the 6th century by peasants fleeing from the countryside around Rome during the invasion of the Goths. The Vallepietra bean, also known as “ciavattone,” has been grown here since the time of Spanish rule, in the 16th century.
The village is set inside a valley with no outlet, completely surrounded by hills, and has a unique microclimate, thanks to the presence of many springs of very pure water (in some cases with a low mineral content). The springs flow into a small river that runs down and feeds the Simbrivio aqueduct, directly connected to Rome. The abundant water and the altitude have allowed this specific type of bean to acclimatize itself, a climbing variety traditional grown together with the local Agostinella corn. The corn would be ground in the village’s small water mill and turned into polenta flour.
The bean has a large, pearly-white seed, and thanks to the chalky soil, the skin is very thin. The typical mark where the seed was attached to the pod differentiates it from the Spagna variety, with which it can be confused.
The cultivated fields are on terraces which start from the lowest part of the valley and reach up to the rockiest slopes. The spring water has been channeled to reach the fields thanks to the work of generations of farmers. Cultivation begins in April, and no weedkillers or chemical fertilizers are used, as they could pollute the springs. The beans are harvested in different phases, starting in September. The seeds for the following sowing are selected from the flowers that develop first and lowest down, while the rest are sold.
The beans are stored in jute sacks along with a few bay leaves, and kept in dry, cool cellars. They are eaten plain with extra-virgin olive oil and onions, topped with a sauce of sausages or pork rinds, or in soups and salads.
The harvest takes place in September, the dried product is available all year round.
Now, a small consortium of farmers is starting to revive all of the traditional legumes from the Simbrivio Valley. Thanks to the Presidium they are also promoting the Vallepietra bean, in an attempt to bring new life back to the valley.
Vallepietra municipality, Rome province
Presidium supported by
Lazio Regional Authority, Arsial, Vallepietra Municipality, Monti Simbruini Regional Park, Rome Provincial Authority
di Colomba Placidi
Località Tartaro, 3
Tel. 349 3149824
Via Vittorio Veneto, 20
Tel. 340 7424054
di Lorenzo De Carolis
Via Sant’Angelo, 38
Tel. 340 3218512
Via Trieste, 4
Tel. 347 3791194
Località Casa degli Zocchi
Tel. 347 1193181