Terre del Conero

In this section you will find many interesting facts and insights about our area, its food and traditions. You will also come across many tips about healthy eating, and there are some simple recipes that you can use to enjoy our products.

The arbutus berry

The arbutus is one of many names given to this plant (albatross, flora marina, rosella and murta are just some examples). It has been claimed that it comes from the ancient name of the mountain Conero, from its greek translation komaros. The coat of arms of the province of Ancona shows one arm bent at the elbow (Ankon) holding a sprig of arbutus loaded with fruit. In Latin it was called unedo, from unum edo, which means "I only eat one", referring both to the unattractiveness of the arbutus and to the invitation to be careful not to eat it in excessive quantities. In the past it was called marine cherry, and is was considered to be a magical plant, because a copious consumption led to a feeling of light-headedness.

The high percentage of sugar made ​​it perfect for use in making jellies, jams, candies, syrups and liqueurs, including a local traditional wine called ‘cocomero’, that was once said to be made by the monks of the Conero ("cocomero " just like watermelon, is a dialect word for this berry). Scholars of magical beliefs and of ancient cults in the Conero refer to a religious festival linked to the consumption of arbutus during a ceremony, which was held on October the 23rd, the day of St. Simon and Jude.

Centuries ago this festival of the arbutus was one of those "rituals and festivities that wove magic and religion with fun",  and this joyous celebration around this fruit typical of the mountain was "a sort of rite similar to the Bacchanalian festivals", because this fruit had an an intoxicating power similar to grapes, and "the inhabitants of the mountain would agree to meet along the paths in the woods, while collecting the arbutus and they would be out until late evening to celebrate cheerfully." 

Instead, during the summer solstice, on the "magic" night of June the 23rd, the arbutus is one of the plants of St. John, that was seen as being able to protect children from witches, as also told in Ovid's ‘Fasti’. In the Aeneid the funeral bed of Pallas, a companion of Aeneas, is described by Virgil as being prepared by twisting rods of oak and arbutus (the evergreen leaves of the arbutus could therefore be interpreted as a symbol of immortality).

Regarding this episode of Virgil's epic poem, the poet Giovanni Pascoli identified Pallas as the first hero who died for the national cause, and therefore in the ode "To the arbutus", he referred to the triple color of the arbutus in late autumn and elected this shrub as an emblem of the Risorgimento. Around Christmas the white flowers, red berries and green leaves coexist to replicate the colours of the Italian flag. («Volgean la testa al feretro le vacche, / verde, che al morto su la fronte i fiocchi / ponea dei fiori candidi, e le bacche / rosse su gli occhi. Il tricolore!… E il vecchio Fauno irsuto / del Palatino lo chiamava a nome, alto piangendo, il primo eroe caduto delle tre Rome»).

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Terre del Conero Agricoltori per Natura, soc. coop. agr. Via Peschiera 30, 60020 Sirolo (AN) P.IVA 02474980428
European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development