santo stefano di sessanio

Sessanio Lentils

An eulogy to the palate and to slow food

In the territory of the Gran Sasso National Park there is a small and precious hidden treasure, coveted by many and unique: it is the lentil of Santo Stefano. What makes it unique is its particularly small size and its unmistakeable taste. The cultivation of this variety of lentil, as if by magic, seems to be possible in this location and this location only, thanks to just the right combination of wind, soil, water and altitude.

Grown more widely in the past, today this precious crop is protected and looked after by just a few skilled folk, farmers from Santo Stefano of Sessanio and a few other towns in the National Park of Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga. These people have a love for the land that’s difficult to imagine. They harvest the lentils and take care of every single plant in the same way their forefathers did a hundred years ago. The plants are still scythed by hand and the remains are worked back into the soil to feed the next crop. A combine harvester isn’t used for the harvest because the plots are narrow and because the machine might damage the crop.

You can imagine then, how much effort, and especially how much time is needed to produce Santo Stefano di Sessanio lentils and bring them to our tables. It is perhaps the investment of our time, being our most precious asset, that makes these lentils so precious and rare. For this reason, and because their cultivation requires so much effort, Santo Stefano di Sessanio has also been recognised as a Slow Food Presidium and thanks to this recognition farmers growing this lentil are able to compete with large foreign imports and withstand those who pass off other lentils for those of Sessanio.

Slowness is synonymous with respect for the rhythms of nature, and the rejection of pesticides and herbicides. Nature rewards Sessanio people with a unique and inimitable product, that never fails to conquer the palate of any tourist who makes it here.

Slowness is a way of being, that emanates from the smiles of our people and, why not, from a plate of our lentils, too! Whoever comes to us for a slow-pace vacation, eager to escape the hustle of modern life, has chosen the right place!

For those who are passionate about food and wine, lentils can be purchased directly from the producers. Or you can get them in our restaurants, or why not try your hand cooking some in the kitchen by taking one of the many traditional cooking courses organised at different times of the year.
Come and visit us and taste the lentils of Santo Stefano di Sessanio, unique in all the world!


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