The Monti Cimini Chestnut near Rome

posted Jan 17, 2012, 11:14 PM by Stefano Capoccioni   [ updated Jan 17, 2012, 11:15 PM ]
food tasting chestnut
The chestnut is certainly one of the most important of Tuscia’s typical products. Accounting for 30% of the region’s production – and 8% of Italy’s – the chestnuts of the Monti Cimini district have always played a leading role in the local economy.
The Monti Cimini chestnut is derived from the species Castanea sativa, a local ecotype referred to as the "domestic chestnut of the Monti Cimini," and the “fiorentino" and "premutico" cultivars. In all species, the flesh is sweet and flavourful. The primary target market is the fresh one, in which the chestnut traditionally arrives after an initial cold-water soaking for two to six days in vats or wooden tubs. This conditioning, called “curing,” serves to block the occurrence of pathogens during preservation. They are then left to dry, and thrashed daily in a process called trapalatura.
The Viterbo area has seen chestnut farming since antiquity, and the species has spread to become an integral part of the Monti Cimini district’s landscape. The tree has ushered in a "chestnut culture" rich in customs, traditions, juridical rules, municipal statutes, and farming techniques. During the Middle Ages and in the modern period, the Monti Cimini area, as demonstrated by numerous ruins that have been discovered, had old, two-story drying-houses (called "metati" or "raticci") where the chestnuts were dried in a long smoking process.