Slow Fish in Action
The art of preserving fish was probably introduced to Orbetello by the Spanish in the 16th century. Botargo has been made around the lagoon for centuries, but until recently only at home. Most of the mullet with eggs were sent fresh to Sardinia and processed there. Botargo is made by delicately extracting the egg sacs from the female fish, salting them for a few hours, pressing them and then letting them dry. The amber-colored, irregularly shaped blocks of salted eggs are firm but not dry.
A total of 58 fishers belong to the Presidium, joined into a cooperative. They have a workshop for processing the fish, operate a shop and a fish market and, in the evenings, run a small restaurant looking out over the lagoon, where they serve typical local dishes made using the daily catch. For the past few years, they’ve even been offering tourist excursions on a special boat, taking visitors to explore the lagoon and out to the barriers where the lagoon waters meet the sea, where the mullet are caught.
Orbetello lagoon, Grosseto Province
Mullet fishing takes place all year, but culminates between August and September.