The Italian Almanac


Italian News - November 9

A Como man wolfed down more than half a kilo of fiery Italian chilli peppers in half an hour to become Italy's latest Mr Peperoncino. With 559 grammes, Franco Rotunno pipped five-time champ Adriano Gatto who gobbled down 550g of the red-hot spices in the allotted time.

In the contest at a northern Italian eatery, intrepid fans of Italy's answer to Mexican chillis are given 30 minutes to down as many red-hot peperoncini as they can manage with the help of water, wine, bread and mashed potatoes. Cheered on by a noisy crowd and watched by the beady eye of referees, 23 bidders for the crown munched it out this year - almost all from Lombardy and Switzerland.

The all-time record was set by 'fire-eater' Francesco Vecchio in 1997 with some 800 grammes, 250 more than Rotunno succeeded in swallowing this year. The contest at Albese on Lake Como is one of two which have gained prominence over the last few years.