The roveja is a small, pea-like legume, whose color varies from dark green to brown to gray.
Some researchers believe it is an ancestor of the common pea, while others claim it is a true species. In either case, its botanical classification is still unclear. Without a doubt, its dietary value is very high: it is a great protein source and it is rich in carbohydrates, phosphor and potassium, but poor in fats.
In past centuries it was a staple in the diet of herders and farmers in the Sibillini Mountains, but in recent years its cultivation has been almost completely abandoned. Only in Valnerina, particularly in the area around Cascia, does it continue to be sown. The beans are grown at altitudes between 600 and 1,200 meters, planted in March and harvested in the middle of the summer.
Just as with the lentils grown on difficult, high-altitude land, harvesting the roveja peas is a tough, laborious job. The long stalks tend to lie on the ground, making the use of combine harvesters almost impossible, so the plants must still be scythed manually.
The Presidium involves four producers from Civita di Cascia who have recovered the ancient seed and are promoting awareness of the legume, which is excellent in soups.
Nerina Valley, Perugia Province
The roveja is picked between the end of July and the start of August, and is available dried year-round.