In the early 19th century in a monastery of Altamura, the capuchin friar Giuseppe Ronchi started fostering a dream: producing an elixir to cure body and soul on a cold winter’s night and hot summer days. He felt that this could only be achieved by respecting nature and using mother’s nature gifts. One day, while he was looking at the walnut grove of the cloister, he had an idea: he picked the walnuts which still were in their green bull and he felt his dream was about to come true. It took several years to develop the final recipe, but friar Giuseppe had plenty of patience. His scrupulosity and his desire to create something which would have made people think of him with gratitude in the future did the rest. Now when we sip Padre Peppe we cannot fail to be grateful to friar Giuseppe and to his wonderful dream.
The famous, most important and most sold liqueur of Altamura has a dark brown color, an intense flavor and a distinctive aroma. Its recipe is attributed to Giuseppe Ronchi, a Capuchin monk from the 16th century, who had intended to create an elixir that should heal body and soul from the cold of winter and the summer heat. This liqueur is derived from the infusion in alcohol of green walnuts and spices and has stomach-soothing qualities. The recipe, by now popular and appreciated all over Italy, became famous in the late nineteenth century, thanks to the successful marketing of a historical company founded in 1832 by the brothers Striccoli. They first opened a small café at Piazza Municipio, then at Piazza Duomo, on the premises of the former seat of the University of Altamura. The flavoring ingredients of the liqueur are in part due to a popular culture soaked with magic-cabalistic influences: the nuts, in fact, must be thirteen in number, collected on the day of St. John (June 24) and stay in the infusion until Christmas, in a barrel oak. Later sugar, herbs, eucalyptus leaves, spices and other flavorings such as cloves, coffee, cinnamon and nutmeg are added. Some families that produce this walnut elixir, however, affirm that the thirteen fruits should be collected on the day of St. Anthony (June 13), because the 13 is universally regarded as a lucky number. The soaking time can vary widely from 6 months for products made for personal consumption, up to 4 years, in accordance with tradition.