The countryside around the town of Vimercate has two highly prized crops, Oreno potatoes and Mezzago asparaguses, kept alive by a good level of production and celebrated at historic festivals which always attract big crowds.
The village of Oreno, just outside Vimercate, has always been known as the potato village. A particular variety of white potato, the Canadian Kennebec, whose characteristics make it ideal for gnocchi (small potato dumplings), pasta and mashed potato. The ‘Sagra della Patata’ (feast of the potato) has taken place every September since the 1970s, with competitions between the different neighbourhoods of the village, celebrations of historic events in costume and the tasting of specialities, all made with potatoes, of course.
Mezzago is renowned for the growing of the pink asparagus, unique in Italy in terms of its colour and sense-stimulating qualities. Grown in the area since the beginning of the 20th century, the Mezzago pink asparagus was at risk of disappearing towards the end of the century but has now made a comeback, thanks also to the help of the local and regional authorities. Visitors to the ‘Sagra dell’Asparago’ (feast of the asparagus), which takes place in May, can taste risottos, meat dishes and other specialities featuring the highly valued vegetable.
The Oreno potato and Mezzago asparagus are certified as farm produce of excellence with the ‘Made in Brianza’ quality seal, which guarantees the respect of a code of production conduct and a short, well-monitored production and distribution chain. The ‘Made in Brianza’ quality seal is awarded by the Monza and Brianza Chamber of Commerce, which – in collaboration with the Coldiretti farmers union of Milan and Lodi, and the Vimercate and Mezzago town councils – supports and promotes these two prized foods.
Salami from Brianza has the DOP mark, a quality seal introduced in 1996 by a specific association of producers. The salami is made by mincing the shoulder, offal, belly, throat and lean parts with salt, pepper, garlic and wine; the curing can last from two weeks to five months, depending on the size.