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The Spelt of Monteleone

Luciano Giacchè - Cedrav

The Spelt of Monteleone
The spread of the spelt in Monteleone di Spoleto area is also attested by the following appellatives "mangiafarre" or "Farrari de San Nicola", with which the inhabitants of neighboring municipalities indicated Monteleone inhabitants. The latter appellation refers to the ritual of the "Spelt of San Nicola" that takes place every December 5th, the eve of the festivity of the Saint, the Saint patron of the town.

The tradition and the ritual
The parish priest prepares in the rectory of San Nicola Church a spelt soup that is cooked in a large cauldron on the fireplace. The spelt is distributed at noon with meatless sauce to the inhabitants of Monteleone, starting with the children who are the privileged recipients of the ritual and on this occasion can anticipate the exit from school.
The ritual commemorates the miracle that tradition attributes to San Nicola who, walking through Monteleone and impressed by the poverty of its inhabitants, he wanted to donate the spelt in order to feed the poor people. Actually, it is the transposition of an episode of the hagiography of the saint, who was born and lived in Minor Asia in III and IV centuries, remembered as the miracle of the "agrarian Ships" which, by the intercession of San Nicola, brought the grain to the residents of Mira, exhausted by hunger after a long period of famine. A similar miracle is attributed to San Nicola in favor of the inhabitants of Bari, who in 1087 stole his spoils and dedicated to him their Cathedral. The Saint, venerated throughout Europe as a giver of gifts and as protector of the young people, after the Protestant Reformation, was gradually replaced by the Child Jesus and, later, by Santa Claus. Anyway, the permanence of this unique ritual has favored the continuity of the spelt cultivation in Monteleone, becoming a characterizing feature of this territory.

PDO Cereal Spelt
Thanks to the efforts of local producers and the University of Perugia which has studied its genetic characteristics, it was possible to request and obtain the certification of this product as P.D.O. Protected Designation of Origin.