Emmer or ‘farro’ (Triticum dicoccum), whose origins have been traced back to some parts of Asia (Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine) and Egypt, is the oldest grain among those that have been handed down to our times. Due to dietary changes and elimination of those foods considered to be ‘poor’, as well as the advent of new varieties of nude wheat (i.e. without external covering), emmer was permanently supplanted and pushed away into increasingly smaller and poorer areas. It began to disappear in the beginning of the last century, but in Garfagnana it continued to be produced, and even in considerable amounts, as it was an object of commerce. On the hilly lands of Garfagnana the plant profits from the cold climate; it requires neither antiparasitic treatments nor fertilizers and thus it is essentially an organic product free of pollutants. Today, emmer is of considerable economic importance locally in that it contributes notably to the total income of many families.
The only species cultivated in Garfagnana is Triticum dicoccum, different from that found in other areas where other types, in particular spelt, are grown in combination.
There are about 80-90 farms currently cultivating Farro della Garfagnana, covering a total area of about 100 ha. The average area of cultivation by each farm is rather limited: many cultivate less than 1 ha, while about 10% of the farms commit areas greater than 3 ha.
Used in flavourful and traditional recipes of the Garfagnana zone, it has found an important place in the gastronomy of the region of Lucca, and others. It is very healthy, satisfying and energetic, providing important nutrition without being difficult to digest. It is particularly suitable for the preparation of quiches or main-dish pies and it is especially used as an ingredient in various types of soups.
Following an important path toward recovery and exploitation, this crop has been recognised with PGI protection.