Sweet, crunchy and pulpy: it is the Pizzutello grape, characteristic of the area of Tivoli, an enchanting town near Rome. It is traditionally grown in gardens, on pergolas, under which vegetables, such as lettuce, broad beans, and peas, are sometimes planted, often surrounded by splendid and fragrant roses. Over time, these characteristic pergolas have contributed to making unique this part of the Lazio landscape, ever since chestnut "forcinotti" were used as support posts and the vines were tied with "cartica", a local herb.
Grapes, what a passion!
The Pizzutello grape takes its name from the dialect word "Pizzuto", which means "pointed"; in fact, due to the shape of its elongated, curved and slightly pointed berries, it is also called "uva corna" (corna is the Italian for horn). There are two types: white, with a delicate light green colour and thin skin, and black, wine red with a thicker skin. The full-bodied clusters give succulent and sugary pulp berries - with a delicate vanilla taste referring to white grapes - and extremely crunchy. A delicacy to enjoy with eyes and palate!
The story: vines, popes and cardinals
According to tradition, this grape boasts very ancient origins. As early as the first century after Christ, Pliny the Elder's Naturalis Historia mentions a variety of grapes grown in the area of Tivoli and Pompeii, referable to the delicious Pizzutello. According to other sources, it was thanks to Cardinal Ippolito d’Este that, in the mid-1500s, this type of vine arrived in this area from France. At the time, the cardinal, appointed Governor of Tivoli, built his magnificent Renaissance residence in this city: Villa d'Este. Numerous prints and photographs from the 18th and 19th centuries prove the presence of Pizzutello crops in the "Orti Estensi" (Estensi Gardens) and the land surrounding the Sanctuary of Hercules Victor and the ancient Temple of the Cough.
This grape has always been a real institution for the local population, who made traditional and rich presents to two popes of the past: Leo XIII (1878-1903) and Pius X ( 1903-1914).
The queen of September
The Pizzutello grape is famous throughout Italy for its excellent quality and today is a Slow Food Praesidium. It is the protagonist of a historic festival at the end of Summer when both the fruit and the exquisite jam made from it are ready to be tasted. In September, the whole city of Tivoli, and especially the suggestive medieval historic centre, celebrate the queen of grapes with music, exhibitions, food and wine and cultural events. This tradition was born on 2 October 1845, when the inhabitants welcomed Pope Gregory XVI in a city richly decorated by the precious Pizzutello. They were grateful to the pontiff for the works for the Aniene river diversion following the terrible floods of the beginning of the century.
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