Community of Wild Mussel Fishermen of Portonovo

Italy - Fish, sea food and fish products

In Ancona, the name mosciolo refers to the wild mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis), a naturally reproducing species that lives attached to the submerged rocks along the Conero coast. They were already present in these waters at the beginning of the 20th century, but very little gathering was done and the mussel colonies concentrated on the Scoglio del Trave and a few other locations between Pietralacroce and Sirolo. Until the Second World War mussels were gathered using rowing boats and were a means of earning additional income for people in the villages of Poggio, Varano, Massignano and Pietralacroce, the Municipality of Sirolo, and for Ancona port workers.
The fork-like tool used to remove mussels from the rocks was not particularly damaging: more damage was caused by using the moscioliniera, a long pole with curved iron teeth at its base which was used to scrape the rocks. This resulted in both large and very small mussels being removed, paradoxically contributing to a proliferation of mussels on nearly all the other submerged rocks of the Conero. In fact some of the smallest mussels thrown back into the sea managed to survive and colonize new areas.
In the 1950s and 1960s, some small trattorias which had opened in Portonovo along the sea front helped to make the Conero mussels better known and appreciated.
At the same time there was a boom in gathering these mollusks by small boats supported by divers. But due to the difficulties involved in this type of fishing and competition from farmed mussels, the quantities gathered fell drastically, along with a sharp reduction in the numbers of divers willing to do the work. Another factor is that gathering wild mussels is now limited to a very small number of coastal areas, as is the case in the rest of the world.

Production Area
The stretch of coast from Pietralacroce to the border between Sirolo and Numana, centering on the bay of Portonovo, Province of Ancona, Marche


Marcello Nicolini
Tel. +39 071 801183
Fax +39 071 801198