TOMATO RE UMBERTO, CALLED “FIASCONE”

Together with local farmers of the area of the Amalfi Coast our NGO ACARBIO – engaged in environmental projects – incentivized the re-cultivation of the historical Re Fiascone Tomato to preserve the rich cultural landscapes terraces of the area. This tomato was originally cultivated in 1878 in honor of King Umberto I and was one of the main topping of the famous Pizza Margherita 1889 honored to the Queen. The original seed slowly disappeared in the 20th century and was close to extinction, after San Marzano Tomato originated from a crossing between Fiascone and another local variety. We started in 2009 to search for seeds and established partnerships via local crowdfunding to re-cultivate and preserve this old and very tasty heritage variety of tomatoes. Thus, through this project we are securing biodiversity and also preserving the terraces which are part of UNESCO World Heritage.

 

Cultural and natural heritage at the Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is a place rich in history and with unique landscapes. Its greatness its due also to its enormous biodiversity heritage which is often invisible at first sight. In this context the association ACARBIO has committed itself since 2009 in the promotion of the local area, of sustainable development and in environmental topics, dedicating special attention to the recovery of such local biodiversity and agricultural productions at risks of extinction.

Thanks to this tireless activity of preservation and recovery, ACARBIO has brought back many native species (fruits, vegetables, wheat, etc.) that would have been lost otherwise. Among these species there is an ancient vegetable date XIX century which was about to disappear, becoming almost impossible to find: the Re Umberto (King Umbert) tomato.

The fascinating story of this tomato tells of how the origin of its name came from Umberto I of Savoy, when he was king of Italy and visited Naples for the first time in 1878. The locals dedicated to him the best variety of tomato of that time, the king of tomatoes. Also known locally as “Fiascone”, Re Umberto tomato is famous for being the ancestor of the San Marzano tomato, which is nothing but a crossbreed between Fiascone and another variety of tomato.

A historical heritage tomato variety – The Re Fiascone

This variety has been grown in Italy for over a century and sold by all the most important seeds companies (it was on the catalogue of Ingegnoli in the 1889 edition and on Sgaravatti’s catalogue from 1910 to 1940), but the seeds were mixed with other varieties during the years, causing its cancellation from the national register and making it very difficult to find.

In Tramonti, a village of the Amalfi Coast, Re Umberto tomato was cultivated since the beginning of ‘900 and the seeds were spread hand by hand. Every family had their own piece of garden used for growing this tomato and every year they would process it and put it in bottles to use it during the whole year for cooking. But also in this area it was gradually disappearing, replaced by other varieties, up to the point it was almost forgotten.

Some local farmers have passionately guarded this seed from generations and have gifted ACARBIO association with it, which has been committed to spread it for free to all the people who cared about the biodiversity of rural areas.

Effettocostiera – re-cultivating the old heritage tomato

And this is show ACARBIO has decided to start a project for recovery and promoting Fiascone tomato, launching a crowdfunding through the network of Ethical Purchasing Groups in Italy, with the objective to collect enough resources to start the first production of tomatoes and process them in jars.

Other than the activities in the field, ACARBIO has started a cooperation with the Regional Research Center (CREA ORT Pontecagnano) to do scientific researches on the tomato and to technically support the farmers during the production phase.

During the processing phase, ACARBIO signed a cooperation with a recognized name in gastronomy of the Campania Region such as the Sabato Abagnale factory farm, which process tomatoes following the old tradition.

The final result is a high quality product. The label “Re Fiascone” represents the beginning of a sustainable development model for the area, which aim to help the local economy, supporting the small “guardian” farmers and at the same time safeguarding the terraced landscape which is characteristic of this area, creating at the same time a link with another important delight of the area such as the Tramonti Pizza, which can become more and more recognizable thanks to a royal dressing like Re Umberto tomato.

The pilot project started by ACARBIO has been handed over to a local start-up called “Effetto Costiera” which is working on the production, selling and valorization of Re Umberto tomato.

To find out more about this project, write to info@refiascone.it or visit www.refiascone.it.

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