Valle Roveto Castagna "roscetta" chestnut
The Valle Roveto chestnut groves stretch from the right of the River Liri, along the whole valley, concentrating mainly in the municipal territories of Canistro, Capistrello, Morino, Civitella Roveto, Civita d’Antino and Balsorano.
The Valle Roveto “roscetta” chestnut is a reddish-brown colour, with a smooth surface and is quite large, with an extremely sweet flavour due to the higher amounts of soluble glucides.
The method of harvesting has remained unchanged over the years: it begins in mid-October and is done by hand in the traditional way collecting the fruit in baskets.
The chestnuts are preserved using a meticulous method, which has been handed down from generation to generation: first of all, they are kept in water for about 18 days, then they are left to dry in the sun and finally they are stored in a very dry place.
They can be toasted (the so-called “infornatelle” – oven toast-ed) and preserved for the whole winter.
The chestnut woods, together with the abundant water springs, are the features of the Upper Valle Roveto landscape, their age varying but with many trees over two meters in diameter and 30-35 metres in height, so there is no doubt that they are over 200 years old. It is difficult to establish when this type of cultivation arrived in the area.
Documents exist that date the presence of chestnut trees as early as the mid-1600s; in an essay Febonio speaks of chestnuts as being one of the products that the women of Roveto took to the Rome markets in the famous “canistri” (baskets made with wicker and which were the main activity of the inhabitants of Canistro).
The existence of dense woods along the upper and mid Liri Valley, including chestnuts, is proved by several inscriptions found on Antinum (now Civita d’Antino) territory in the municipality of Valle Roveto, an ancient Roman municipium that governed all the other municipalities in the Upper Valle Roveto. Moreover, statistics prepared by the Murat government, published in 1811 under the heading “subsistence for the population”, state that the upper Valle Roveto had plentiful chestnut harvests, which were often the only food for the inhabitants, except for acorns and beech seeds.
The history, culture, economy and landscape of the valley are closely linked to the chestnut.
The historical importance of chestnut woods is also proved by the extensive municipal legislation dedicated to it.