Calvenzano is a small town in the Bassa Bergamasca, south of Bergamo, known for a melon variety that has been included in the germplasm bank for the protection of biodiversity held by the University of Valencia.
The Calvenzano melon has a thick, netted rind with a fairly pronounced stalk which is left attached to the fruit during harvest. The fruit can reach very large dimensions, weighing between 2 and 6 kilos, and is oval in shape. The flesh is dense and sweet, with a beautiful warm orange color and a heady fragrance.
The melon has continued to be cultivated over the years by the historic Calvenzano Agricultural Cooperative, founded in 1887 and the third-oldest in Italy. The fruit can be found listed in its records since the 20th century and according to the oral accounts of the oldest members it had a fundamental importance in the local economy, with farmers able to make enough from its cultivation to buy the land they were working.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the melon’s fame spread internationally, and during the Belle Époque, the melons were shipped from this small town in the Bassa Bergamasca straight to the best restaurants in Paris. In the 1930s, they were even sent to the summer residence of the British monarchs, and according to some members, the cooperative received a certificate of appreciation from the royal family.
The harvest takes place in July, with peak production lasting 10 to 15 days. Due to its lower sugar content and short harvest time the variety has suffered from competition from modern melon varieties. These modern varieties have been selected to obtain sweeter and sweeter fruits and their longer harvesting period makes them commercially more attractive.
Calvenzano’s production cannot compete with the quantities produced by the industrial giants in the area, principally the farms around Mantua, among the most important in the country for the production of orange-fleshed melons. But since 2002 the members of the Calvenzano Agricultural Cooperative have begun planting the variety again, after an initial six seedlings were germinated thanks to a farmer who had kept a few seeds. Now there are hundreds of plants, producing a few dozen quintals of melons.
With the Presidium, production has increased, involving another three growers in the area who have planted the historic local melon using seeds provided by the cooperative, which will further increase the production of fresh melons. A share of the melons will also be turned into preserves and liqueurs.
Calvenzano municipality and surroundings, Bergamo province
Calvenzano melons are available fresh in July
Cooperativa Agricola Castel Cerreto, Treviglio (Bg), Via Canonica 148, tel. +39 389 1647981, firstname.lastname@example.org
Il Platano, Treviglio (Bg), Via Casirate vecchia 12, tel. +39 348 7113721, email@example.com
Ridibio di Lorenzo Ferrari, Calvenzano (Bg), Via Misano c/o Cascina dei Frati, tel. +39329 0626327, firstname.lastname@example.org
Giovanni Fontana, Calvenzano, Via Misano, 14, tel.+39 349 292709, email@example.com
The Calvenzano Agricultural Cooperative reproduces the seeds and coordinates processing activities:
Cooperativa agricola di Calvenzano, via G. Paglia 7, Calvenzano (Bg), tel. +39 0363 86121, firstname.lastname@example.org