Apples from the Underworld – Campania’s Melannurca Apples

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Mela Annurca Apples

 

Maybe it’s an American thing. Johnny Appleseed, as American as apple pie, a visit to the orchard on a cool fall day – we certainly have a distinct apple culture in America. For me, autumn fully arrives when I tote home a big pile of fresh, crisp, tart apples – certainly one of the highlights of the season!

 

Over the past year I have learned much more about food and cooking here in the region of Campania, and I’ve been trying all the local specialties I can get my hands on. One that I’ve been eagerly awaiting is Campania’s famous Mela Annurca (or Melannurca). Why famous? This apple has a pedigree more ancient than the region’s famous ruins of Pompeii and Ercolano. The great Roman historian Pliny the Elder, who died during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD that devastated those two Roman cities, described the Melannurca apples in his Historia Naturalis. At that time the apples were called “Mala Orcula,” or the apples of the underworld, as they were thought to have originated near Pozzuoli where the Romans believed the gates to hell were located. Now how’s that for a good story?

 

Mela annurca ripening

Photo Pro Loco “Valle”

 

I simply had to try these apples from the underworld! Mission accomplished two days ago as I toted home a big bag of these little Melannurca apples with a smile on my face. They are known for their small size and good flavor, and after many, many, many taste tests , I can assure you that they are, in fact, very tasty.

 

The Melannurca apples are peculiar in that they don’t ripen evenly on the tree. They do best when they are picked while still slightly green and then laid out to finish maturing on beds of straw or wood chips, which you can see in the photo above. They are covered with nets to protect them and limit the direct sun exposure, and then painstakingly turned every once in awhile as they ripen. I would love to see this in person!

 

In 2001, the Melannurca apples gained the IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) status by the EU, which marks quality and importance as well as protects the status and reputation of regional foods. They are grown in all of the provinces of Campania, but especially in Naples, Caserta and Benevento.  You can read more about the Melannurca apples in Italian at the Melannurca apple website and at the Regione Campania website.

 

mele mela

Photo Comune di San Mango Piemonte

 

Happy mela (apple) eating!

Tempting Tuesday: Amalfi Coast End of Summer Blues

 

The sun is out and the weather has warmed up significantly since last week. These are the beautiful autumn days that I love, with the changing colors of the trees and grape vines glowing brilliantly in the sun. I’ve so enjoyed doing these color themed posts over this past month, and remembering the beautiful memories from the summer. But you know I couldn’t end this series without blue! After all, it’s the color of the sea and sky and the fishing boats and so much more here on the Amalfi Coast. While I love the change of seasons, I’m also a bit blue that summer is coming to an end. It sure was a good one! 

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Blue Boats CapriI love the bright colors at Capri’s Marina Grande, especially the blue boats!

 

 

ticket boothsRemember the new ticket booths in Amalfi that I didn’t like? Well, I still don’t like them! 

 

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Atrani BeachThe lovely beach in Atrani is all blue!

 

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Festa del Pesce Azzurro AtraniSpeaking of Atrani, they also have the Blue Fish Festival!

 

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Art Show Amalfi I loved this art show I happened across in Amalfi this summer.

 

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Capri Lido Faro Swimming at the Faro beach on Capri was a summer highlight!

 

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Blue Boat Amalfi Boats in Amalfi

 

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Lido RavelloEvening light at the Castiglione beach, which is Ravello’s beach.

 

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Waves Boat Salerno Remember the “Harley Davidson” fishing boat in Salerno?

 

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Summer Blues

Summer sun on the toes with the Li Galli Islands in the distance.

 

 

 

Related Posts

 

Tempting Tuesday: Summer Yellows on the Amalfi Coast

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Tempting Tuesday: Summer Reds on the Amalfi Coast 

 Tempting Tuesday: Morning Boat Trip from Salerno to Amalfi

The Black Sheep

 

The sound of the wind blowing through the mountain valleys, the sweet tinkling sound of sheep bells, terraced gardens of olives, lemons and grape vines, unbelievable peace and quiet – these are the reasons I love walking along the ancient pathways on the Amalfi Coast. Yesterday, while filming these 3 white sheep munching away happily on an olive branch, someone else came along. Baaaaaa … the black sheep! 

 

Sunday Shout-out: Learning Italian at LifeinItaly.com

 

Italian Book with Pen

 

I know I’m not the only perfectionist out there trying to learn Italian. You know who you are. We’re the ones who are afraid to speak until we can say a completely formed sentence, with the proper verb conjugations, adjective endings and pronouns. Oh, and it has to be perfectly pronounced, too. Of course. I think this has been the single biggest obstacle for me speaking Italian, and is something I struggle with every day. I know some people can just dive right in with only a few words, but I have found that to be difficult. The single most important thing I’ve learned over the past two years studying Italian and living here in Italy is that every single person learns languages differently. The key is finding what works for you and running with it.

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Many of you are probably already familiar with the great LifeinItaly.com website. Just recently I discovered the wealth of information they have available on learning Italian. I was particularly inspired by the article on the main page by Carlo Pescatori called “Every language is made up of words.” He makes some great points that are particularly relevant for people struggling with some of the issues I mentioned above. I love his idea to incorporate as much Italian into your thinking as you can. Over time it will grow and you will become comfortable with it at the same time. This is, after all, how we learn English. Little bit by little bit, word by word, and with lots of practice. I already find  myself doing this often:

 

Start with nouns of things you have around all the time and talk to yourself like “I’ll drink un caffè now”, “let me andare in salotto for a while”, “tempo to cook again”, “adesso is time for una pausa” and so on.

 

My thoughts are often a mix of the two languages now, but sometimes I surprise myself by thinking or saying a whole thought in Italian without, well, having to think about it. But I feel like this process is helping me with the feelings of perfectionism that I struggle with. I know I will be incorporating some of the ideas and suggestions I learned in this article. Head on over to the LifeinItaly.com Italian page and explore the helpful articles and lessons they offer. I hope something there will inspire you!

 

Buona domenica! Happy Sunday!

 

 

Related Posts for Learning Italian

Sunday Shout-out: Dual Language Articles Online at Italy Magazine

Sunday Shout-out: Dianne Hales 

 Sunday Shout-out: Cyberitalian.com

Italian Language Immersion Month

Rainy Days in Amalfi Town

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Rain Fountain

 

On a perfect sunny day, this fountain near the waterfront in Amalfi of two figures huddling under an umbrella might seem a little out of place. Today, as the rain poured down, these two seemed to fit right in with all the Amalfitans and tourists huddling under umbrellas nearby. The water poured down off the umbrellas, ran down the streets and into the rough sea.

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog maltempo Amalfi

 

It’s not just maltempo, or bad weather, that has arrived in Amalfi. Over the last week winter arrived! Or, at least, Amalfi has packed up its summer feel and stored it away for next year. In the course of one week, all the small boats that line the harbor have been removed, as well as the temporary docks they build every summer. And just in time before the rough seas came! Here’s a short video from Amalfi today:

 

 

Amalfi in the rain and during the winter months has a different sort of beauty, but is nonetheless striking. Today reminded me of that and made me look forward to the coming months.