La Nocciola Romana DOP – Hazelnut

An excellent product from the hazelnut groves on the Cimini Mountains (VT), the Romana DOP Hazelnut is the fruit of the species Corylus avellana cultivar, “Tonda Gentile Romanaand “Nocchione”. Called “Nocchia”, this product of Lazio has been registered on the National List of Traditional Agri-Food and DOP Products since 2009, and is typical of the southern side of the province of Viterbo and some municipalities of Rome.
Round with pale meat, it has a delicate persistent flavour and grows in volcanic soils on the slopes of the Cimini Mountains. It has a lower fat content than other Lazio species and is harvested from mid-August to mid-November.
In the Cimina and Sabatina areas, cultivation of the Tonda Gentile Romana variety dates back to the 15th century but there is evidence that it grew in the wild already in the pre-Roman period. At the time of the Romans, the nut was burned during sacrifices to the God Janus on the hill of Carbognano and used for burning in augural torches during weddings.
It has recently been tried in meat dishes such as stewed rabbit with hazelnuts. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the Romana DOP hazelnut has been used in the confectionery industry for chocolate and traditional sweets, such as tozzetti (link), “ossi di morto”, “brutti e buoni”, “mostaccioli”, gingerbread, nougat, crunch, pralines, to fill chocolates and sugar candies and in spreads.
One of the most gluttonous competitions in Italy is in Ronciglione (VT) for confectioners and chefs competing for the “National award for the Sweet made with Nocciola Tonda Gentile Romana DOP”, where, between October and November, hazelnut sweets of all kinds, hazelnut creams and ice creams are touted.
Since the end of the 1950s, the festival, Sagra della Nocciola has been celebrated in Caprarola (VT) in the last week of August.

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