In spring, walking through the Apulian countryside, especially in the area of Bari, you can witness a real spectacle of nature: the cherry blossoms.
Puglia is, indeed, among the first Italian regions for the production of this exceptional fruit originating from Asia Minor. Starting from the VII century a. C., the cherry tree first spread to Egypt, then passed to Greece and touched almost all the Mediterranean countries. But it is precisely in Puglia that its cultivation has found the perfect habitat: the climate, the presence of the sea and the particular composition of the soil have made the Apulian cherry the flagship of regional agricultural production. The first official document that certifies the cultivation of cherry trees in the land of Bari dates back to 1648. In short, it is a long and consolidated tradition.
But which cherries do we grow? There are different varieties, but the main ones are three: the Bigarreau Burlat or Bigarreau Moreau - called "Bigarò" by the locals -, the Giorgia and the more famous Ferrovia.
Depending on the variety, we will have different colours, tastes and textures: the “Bigarreau” variety is medium-large sized, its shape resembles a heart and it has crunchy consistency and a very sweet taste; the “Giorgia” variety, which is the first to ripen in Puglia, has a bright red colour with a sweet taste and firm pulp. A separate mention deserves the “Ferrovia” variety, the most appreciated and valued on national and international markets. A legend has it that the first tree was born from a cherry stone near a railway signal box of the South-East railways in Puglia, which is why it was called "Ferrovì" (Ed. railway in Italian is ferrovia). Legends aside, what is certain is that the Ferrovia variety is a real jewel of Apulian cherry growing: it is large, juicy and tasty, with a bright red colour.
So much loved, this variety has become the absolute protagonist of one of the best festivals in Puglia, known as “Sagra della Ciliegia Ferrovia di Turi”, which takes place every year in Turi, a town not far from Bari where the cultivation of this cherry variety is an important part of the economy.
Now in its 30th edition this year, the Turi festival annually attracts visitors from all over Puglia and beyond. The tastings of this delicious fruit are followed by musical, entertainment events and conferences dedicated to this prodigy of nature.
Write down the event in your calendar to taste a lot of cherries and discover this small town at the gates of Bari, the guardian of ancient gastronomic traditions and the beating heart of Apulian agriculture.
For more information on the festival: