Here you can find all the local products worth tasting and hard to find elsewhere, because they are only produced in the Lake Garda area.
"Olio Garda DOP" Olive Oil
The olive tree is one of the most rooted plants of the area, with its presence dating back to antiquity. This is how extra virgin olive oil became one of the most important ingredients in local dishes and the Mediterranean cuisine in general.
The "Olio Garda DOP" olive oil is produced in various areas in the provinces of Trento, Verona, Mantua and Brescia.
The "Casaliva", "Frantoio" and "Leccino" olives are the types of olives mostly used in production. In 2004 the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies officially recognised the importance of this business activity awarding the "Consortium for the Protection of the Extra Virgin Olio Garda DoP Olive Oil" a prize for its commitment to the improvement and continuity of olive farming. The "Olio Garda DOP" olive oil is not only distributed nationwide, but also in Europe and the United States. Its success testifies to the top quality of the product, which is fully produced in the Lake Garda area.
Asparagus from Rivoli Veronese
Although asparagus is grown on different soils in the province of Verona, white asparagus from Rivoli Veronese is the most famous sort, with a limited and exclusive production.
Its distinctive white colour results from its growth beneath the soil, far from the sunlight. During Rivoli’s asparagus festival in the first week of May, this vegetable plays the starring role and is an ingredient in various dishes.
Broccoletto from Custoza
A small plant with a short, virtually non-existent stalk and a few leaves grows in Verona's surroundings, a bit further south, in Custoza - broccoletto from Custoza.
This vegetable is only grown in a few areas of the ward of Custoza: hand sowing takes place between the end of June and the first days of July, harvesting from November to February. In the months of January and February, broccoletto can be tasted and bought at the Custoza festival. At this point, risotto with broccoletti from Custoza and Monte Veronese cheese should be mentioned, a recipe with purely Veronese ingredients.
Broccoli from Torbole
The favourable climate on the northern shore of Lake Garda is an important factor in planting broccoli in Torbole. This unique plant has a little more sophisticated flavour than the rest of the wild cabbage group. Broccoli from Torbole is reaped from the end of November to February. Every year, more than 30.000 specimen are produced, with the seeds being passed on in the families of market gardeners.
The Marrone of San Zeno
The Marrone of San Zeno (a variety of chestnut typical of the area around San Zeno di Montagna) differs from the other kinds of chestnuts because of its specific characteristics that are carefully described in the P.D.O. (Protected Designation of Origin) index and that are protected by the Consortium of the producers.
The P.D.O. labelled fruits are grown exclusively in a restricted area between 250 and 900 metres above the sea level and must respect some specific characteristics. Historically, the chestnut-growing used to be an important economic resource as well as the staple food in the daily diet. Besides the P.D.O. label, most of the producers of the Marrone di San Zeno have chosen the certification of Organic production. Today the 70% of all producers obtained the Organic production label for their chestnuts.
The end result is a niche product that is fresh and that tells us the history of a land deeply devoted to the chestnut-growing and to the surrounding nature. About the 50% of all the gathered chestnuts is locally consumed, especially during the traditional Festa del Marrone di San Zeno, a big celebration of the beloved fruit that is taking part every year from the middle of October to the last weekend of November.
Canary Melon from Mantua
The canary melon from Mantua has been awarded the label of protected geographic designation of origin in November 2015. This vegetable belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family grows in 22 towns in the province of Mantua and 8 in the province of Cremona.
It is produced in the greenhouse or on the field, sowing takes place in the months from March to April and harvesting between June and August. The canary melon weighs 1-1,5 kilogramme on average, and has an intense flavour and a sweet taste. It is served as a summer dish and prepared as an appetizer, a main course or dessert.
Radicchio from Verona
Radicchio from Verona is another product with a protected geographic designation of origin grown in the Verona. The vegetable has red, white-veined leaves and an oval head.
Radicchio from Verona grows on alluvial and sandy soils, such as the one in the southern part of the province of Verona. Apart from its slightly bitter taste, its crunchy leaves are another characteristic: radicchio from Verona is traditionally served raw as well as cooked.
Celery from Verona
Celery from Verona is also known as knob celery (it. sedano rapa) due to its thick root that evokes a "rapa" or kohlrabi. The taste of celery from Verona differs greatly from kohlrabi, however, and rather resembles traditional celery, even if a little less intense.
After removing the skin, knob celery can be eaten raw as well as cooked. Harvesting takes place from mid-August to the first frost, and sale from the first harvest to mid-March.
Plums from Dro
Plums from Dro are a product labelled with a controlled designation of origin (DOP) grown in this town in the province of Trento. They have a characteristic oval form, with purple skin covered by a ceraceous and whitish layer, typical of fruits such as plums and grapes.
The pulp has a yellow, nearly greenish colour. The plums' taste ranges from sweet to sour.
Saffron from Pozzolengo
Saffron growing in the southern area of Lake Garda surrounding Pozzolengo (province of Brescia) dates back only a short time, with production starting in 2001. The product is hand-grown in all phases of cultivation - from harvest to the separation of the stamens to roasting -, making this spice an unexcelled quality product.
Saffron from Pozzolengo plays an important role in Lombard cuisine: saffron biscuits and "schiacciatine mantovane", a crunchy flatbread from Mantua, are traditionally from the region. Saffron is also used with risottos and other main dishes.
Monte Veronese Cheese
Monte Veronese cheese is made from cow’s milk from Monte Baldo and the area surrounding the Lessinia mountains.
It is a cheese with a protected designation of origin (DOP), of which two types are sold: the first, made from whole milk, is a semi-hard cheese with a short maturing time of at least 30 days; the second, made from skimmed milk, is a semi-fat cheese in form of a hard or semi-hard cheese with a maturing time of at least 90 days.