The return to its native land of an historic tomato variety developed by the famous wheat breeder Nazareno Strampelli is making a splash in Italy. Originally published in the rather specialized organ L’Iformatore Agrario, the news has now been picked up by the more mainstream media, at least regionally.
What’s particularly interesting to us here is that Varrone, as the variety is called, was eventually found in the genebank of the Vavilov Institute, in St Petersburg, Russia.
“It is a small tribute to the memory of Strampelli on his 150th birthday: from tomorrow it will be possible to eat spaghetti Cappelli-Varrone, 100% Strampelli, not only for the durum wheat but also for the tomato sauce,” says Roberto Papa, professor of agricultural genetics at the Università Politecnica delle Marche, who coordinated the research in collaboration with Sergio Salvi, biologist and biographer of Strampelli, and Giovanna Attene professor of agricultural genetics at the Università di Sassari.
The durum wheat variety Senatore Cappelli was also bred by Strampelli in the 1910s, and remained popular for decades. I’m sure Strampelli would have been pleased that his tomato has been found. Not so sure what he would have thought about losing it in the first place.