Lands of cherries and castles
In our area, Vignola cherries become the center of attention between the end of March and the month of April when the cherry blossoms transform the Panaro Valley into a spectacular white cloud.
It is the "Cherry Blossom Festival" which takes place precisely at this time in Vignola where flowery floats parade and markets for typical local crafts and food and wine are set up.
In the weeks between the end of May and the beginning of June, the initiative of "Vignola is Cherry Time" is held, when the fruits are now ripe and ready to be harvested. Event entirely dedicated to the red fruit which, throughout the harvest period, it is also possible to buy directly from the farmers, in the numerous points of sale set up on the farms and along the roads.
In this area, cherries find the ideal environment to express the best organoleptic characteristics and nutrient content.
The soil where the cherry is grown is clayey due to the deposits left by the Panaro river and even today some of the most characteristic farms are those that are located in its immediate vicinity in the municipalities of Marano, Vignola, Savignano and Spilamberto.
Vignola cherries today are represented by different cultivars. The most typical variety is the famous "Moretta", with a dark color, very sweet and juicy. The Nero di Vignola and Anellone are also traditional. Today, varieties such as Ferrovia durone, Bigarreau and Samba are also very popular.
Grown in 28 municipalities between the provinces of Modena and Bologna, cherries are harvested under the Ciliegia di Vignola PGI brand.
Its cultivation has strongly influenced the morphology of the landscape, the work of man, the life of families and the community. In the past, the cherry played a completely different role from the current one. In fact, in other eras, the economy of the countryside favored other productions such as grapes and apples.
Today with progress and technology, Vignola cherries have become a product of excellence in the agricultural production of the territory. They are exported to other countries where they are increasingly in demand.
Certainly the best way to taste the Vignola cherries is to spend a weekend in Vignola between the end of May and the whole of June, when the climate is ideal and the days are very long.
You can visit historic manufacturing companies such as "Ripa di Sotto" lead by Monica, one of the passionate producers of cherries.
We interviewed her and from the answers she gave to our questions you can understand how much love she puts into running her company and how strongly she is tied to family traditions.
-Which are your childhood memories related to cherries?
I was born and raised among cherries. I remember that the harvest was a moment of great emotion. When I was little I used to play next to my grandmother who wisely chose cherries with her hands that quickly ran across the table and filled the baskets. When I became older, I too started helping in the sorting and packaging. I remember the races among the rows full of water during irrigation, the games with mud and the construction of houses with cardboard boxes. The jars of jams cooked in the sun, and then the jokes to the grandparents with the red juice of the cherries that I poured on myself pretending I had an accident.
And now I see myself in my children and my heart fills with joy.
-Why did you choose to become a cherry producer?
I asked myself a question: 'Can I leave my land? Everything it taught me and what it did for my family? No! So I decided to continue the story of my company that has had the cherry as its protagonist for three generations.
-Do you apply innovative techniques to grow your cherries or do you still follow traditional methods?
Today we cultivate by applying innovative methods, but respecting the product and traditions. Plants are shorter for easier harvesting. We limit the use of pesticides and protect plants with rain cloths to protect them from animals and bad weather. We select product varieties based on market needs and consumer taste.
If reading this article you feel like having a feast of cherries, we are waiting for you in the Lands of Castles and in particular in the municipality of Vignola. You will find many small stands along the roads of the producers and buy cherries and other fruit and vegetables at Km 0.
Contact the Tourist Office of the Lands of Castles, its staff will help you in the creation of your itinerary and your experiences among cherries and castles.