Strawberries have a very l-o-n-g history in Italy. Mythologically speaking, Venus wept tears for the loss of Adonis and since then Fragole (strawberries) have maintained a steady presence in Italy since at least 1611, when they were mentioned as a vaunted new fruit by the writer/physician Pisanelli.
One of the reasons that strawberries are a mainstay in Italy is because they are grown both in southern and northern Italy and then imported to the rest of Europe. However, Lazio (around the Lago di Nemi, outside of Rome) and Emilia-Romagna (outside Ferrara) are blessed with especially fragrant and delicious fragolini di bosco. These tiny, wild, “strawberries of the wood” are honored each year in Nemi with a two month harvest festival, the Sagra delle Fragola. Other than its obvious allure in tarts, jams and gelati, Fragole are served plain, dressed with orange or lemon juice, red or white wine or, particularly near Modena, balsamic vinegar. Or…with pasta, of course.
Donna Picciocchi, Editor