That the Campanino Apple, or Pomo di Modena as it was known at the time, was extremely widespread to the point of becoming proverbial in centuries past, there is no shadow of doubt. Since the Middle Ages the broli (ancient orchard-gardens) of the Estense lands were rich in apple orchards, which in all likelihood included this small and extremely tenacious variety. Giorgio Gallesio, a very important Ligurian botanist famous for his work Pomona Italiana
never saw the unification of Italy or the birth of the conflicts that led to it, but he traveled through its territories and had occasion to mention our bellflower precisely as “Pomo Modenese,” thus present in quantity as early as the 1800s. The count probably saw them lying in the farmyards of the countryside sunbathing, where they turned from dull green to bright red in a few days. Think of the spectacle. Not only did these fragrant melons not hold the frost, but in fact the cold made them tastier. In terms of storage, too, they were perfect. In September-October, they were harvested and remained firm and fragrant for months, without refrigerators or ice.
The Campanina represents the Emilian territory (let’s include Mantua since in the 1800s it was cultivated up there more than here) in its most intimate meaning of terroir. It is very rustic, strong, produces wonderful fruits both cooked and raw, in mustards and preserves, even grows in my garden (see photo) without me pouring a drop of water. The campanina apple (thought to owe this more dialectal name because the fruits grow in pairs like two little bells) is in the soul of Modena, Reggio Emilia, Ferrara and Mantua. A little Gonzaga by adoption but very Estense. It has entered rural traditions for centuries, somewhat unripe as a splendid mostarda in Mantua, or more mature as grandmother’s apple with which she used to make fritters in our kitchens.
Apple erosion occurs as early as the late 1900s however, this time we cannot blame the Atlantic. According to Mirandolian Vilmo Cappi it was already disappearing by the 1900s. Its dough “looks like marble,” said ours.
It would now be a foregone conclusion that I am reporting a historic Cornucopia recipe such as Mantuan mustard, but I have decided to reserve an entire article devoted to the wonderful world of mustards and its uses through millennia of history in the coming days.
Instead, I will refer to a recipe from 1864, from the “Encyclopedia of Progress” where it is used for anti-inflammatory purposes. Not surprisingly, scientific research on this apple has shown a huge antioxidant content (four times other commercial varieties); after all, these are defense systems for the plant itself, which did not live pampered in immense, irrigated orchards as it does today.
Ah, the campanina also lots of pectin, use these if you can find them for your homemade jams, you only need a few cloves.
Inflammation of eyes: cut two slices of the center of the Modena apple, ( this is theFrom the ‘”Enciclopedia del progresso”, 1864
best ) Then apply one of these to each eye, in the evening at bedtime, rubbing the part well so that it remains during the night, and if the inflammation is obstinate, repeat the procedure again for seven to nine consecutive days.
Experience has shown them to have always obtained a happy result with this simple method.