The lentil, originally from Syria but widespread throughout the Mediterranean basin, has very old origins. Lentils are mentioned in the Bible, and it is certain that they were widely consumed by the Greeks and Romans. Due to its nutritional values, it is still considered a very precious food because it can replace meat and more expensive foods.
Although the cultivation of lentils on the island of Ventotene could date back to Roman colonisation, the first documented records date back to the early 19th century. Since then, intensive cultivation has been practiced on the island to reach up to 150 tonnes per year and allowing the export to the mainland. In the immediate post-war period, following the progressive abandonment of the island, the production of this legume suffered a sharp decline until it reached a purely family-oriented cultivation.
Recently, however, some local farmers have decided to exploit the fertile volcanic soil of the island and adopt the old traditional methods to revive this authentic product of excellence. Sowing takes place between December and February. The plants - characterized by climbing and branchy stems - are grown until they reach a height of about 50 cm and produce pods with one or two rounded and flattened seeds. In June, when the plants are dried manual grubbing takes place. This operation is followed by beating the with a specific tool, named “vivillo”, and cleaning, locally called “scogna”. Finally, the wind plays also a crucial role, helping the straw to be separated from the seeds. After that, farmers proceed to the final harvest.