On Sunday my friend and I visited the Festa dei Frutti Dimenticati (“Festival of Forgotten Fruits”) in Casola Valsenio in the province of Ravenna, about an hour from Bologna. Casola Valsenio is officially titled the Paese delle Erbe e dei Frutti Dimenticati (“The Land of Forgotten Fruits and Herbs”) due to its citizens’ commitment to protecting the biodiversity of the town’s ancient fruit trees and herbs. The town is also home to the Giardino delle Erbe “A. Rinaldi Ceroni”, named after the garden’s founder Professor Augusto Rinaldi Ceroni. The herb garden, opened in 1975, contains about 450 species of medicinal herbs and serves as an educational center.
At the festival there were azzeruole (“azarole”), giuggiole (“jujubes”), sorbe (“sorb”), nespole (“medlars”), corniole (“Cornelian cherries”), mele cotogne (“quince”), and many different varieties of apples and pears. There were also dried and fresh mushrooms, including black and white truffles, as well as fresh chesnuts, hazlenuts, and walnuts. My favorite discovery of the trip was the corbezzolo (“strawberry tree berry”), a striking red and spiky small fruit. Its taste was sweet and acidic, and its texture almost-creamy rather than juicy. Apparently, in the plant’s Latin name, Arbutus unedo, unedo comes from unum edo – “I eat one only”. Some believe that Pliny, who named the tree, was saying you need to try the fruit only once because it doesn’t taste good and you’ll never want to eat it again, while others believe the name means “It’s so good, one is plenty”. My vote is for the latter interpretation! I came home toting corbezzole, walnuts, an assortment of apples and pears, a pomegranate, and a kaki mela (Hana-Fuyu persimmon).
The festival runs next weekend as well (October 18-19) if you are nearby and interested in checking it out. See the Pro Loco Casola Valsenio website for details.