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The traditional New Year's Eve dinner, with a zampone or cotechino, and popular year round by themselves, in soups, with sausage, or even with pasta or rice.

Italians take lentils seriously; those from Casteluccio di Norcia in Umbria have DOP status. Other places are equally famed for lentils, including the islands of Ventotene (Lazio) and Ustica (Sicily). The latter are in the Ark of Taste, along with several other varieties:

The Antica lenticchia di Onano, an almost forgotten type of lentils raised near Viterbo.

Lenticchia di Mormanno: high altitude lentils raised on small plots in the Parco Nazionale del Pollino (Calabria).

Lenticchia di Santo Stefano di Sessanio: tiny but very tasty brown lentils (Abruzzo).

Lenticchia di Villalba: blond lentils (Sicily).

You may also see lenticchie turche (coral lentils).

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: Luca Boldrini