Cannellini Beans of Atina – Fagioli Cannellini
One of Atina’s most renowned products are Cannelli Beans. The rich fertile soil and lush pastureland of the Comino valley has meant that agriculture and farming have been an important source of income for this area since time immemorial. Even today agriculture still remains an important industry.
The legumes, the white Cannellini beans, are unique to this specific area, as they are grown along the flood plains of the river Melfa and Mollarino and their tributaries where the soil is dark and naturally rich in manganese. For centuries these beans were the staple diet of the local people providing them with an excellent supply of protein. Normally the beans are sown between late June and early July, traditionally immediately after the wheat harvest. The plants are very thirsty and require plenty of water in order to grow. They are vigorous climbers and require poles to support them.
Harvesting is usually carried out from late September to early October. By this time the bean pods have ripened and changed colour, from green to yellow. They can be harvested a little earlier if they are to be eaten fresh. The whole plants are uprooted and tied up in bunches which are suspended to continue the drying process. When the bean pods are mature the dried plants are threshed by using a typical tool made from two jointed wooden poles which are connected with leather cords. Finally the beans are collected and stored in jute sacks.
The Cannellini Beans of Atina are thin skinned and very tender, so they do not need to be soaked before cooking. When cooked they have a creamy consistency and they possess a delicate flavour. These beans are unique to this area and are considered to be a quality product, having gained the certified name of origin, “la denominazione di origine controllata”, “Fagiolo Cannellino di Atina DOC”.
They are typically served in a thick and hearty soup of pasta and beans.
In dialect, this dish is sometimes known as pasta fazul, as in the Dean Martin song :
“That’s Amore”: “When the stars make you drool just like pasta fazul, that’s amore!”
During the summer Atina holds a bean feast, La Fagiolata, to celebrate this typical and very special native product.
Photos have been accredited to the photographer / owner.
All other photos I have taken myself – © Louise Shapcott