Zucchetta Rampicante is an heirloom climbing summer squash popular throughout Italy. Most summer squash have bush-habit growth form, and most summer squash such as zucchinis and yellow crooknecks are Cucurbita pepo varieties. Zucchetta however is a variety of Cucurbita moschata and has a vigorous vining growth habit. C. moschata stems are round in contrast to the distinctly five-sided stems of C. pepo. Zucchetta Rampicante has been described both optimistically as ‘robust’ and pessimistically as ‘aggressive’, climbing up fences, walls, and arbors. The prolific vines yield long cylindrical fruits that can reach 3 feet in length, and a single plant can produce over 20 squash. If vines are not trellised but remain on the ground, the developing fruits will curl around on themselves. Fruits of Zucchetta Rampicante have firmer texture and nuttier flavor than bush-habit summer squash varieties and range from pale green to beige depending on maturity.
Tromboncino Squash tends to grow in circles around itself when untrellised.
Seeds are widely available throughout the Pacific Northwest and the United States, although they can be difficult to find because Zucchetta goes by so many different names: Tromboncino, Trompetta di Albenga, Tromba d’ Albenga, Zucchino Rampicante, and more. Seed sources include Territorial Seeds, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, The Cook’s Garden, FedCo Seeds, Renee’s Garden Seeds, and West Coast Seeds.
Zucchetta Cucuzzi is another classic climbing squash popular throughout southern Italy and is known as the ‘Serpent of Sicily’. Like Zucchetta Rampicante, it goes by many different names including New Guinea Bean, Cucuzzi Carvasi, Italian edible gourd, and, perhaps most revealing of its trellising past, Zucchetta da Pergola. This vegetable actually belongs to the hard-shelled gourd Lagenaria siceraria species. It closely resembles Zucchetta Rampicante in color, form, and vigor with fruits growing up to three feet long. Fruit is best eaten when still narrow and 6–18 inches long. If allowed to mature, fruits will develop into hard-shelled gourds that can be used for unique storage containers.
Cornell University. Summer squash. Vegetable Growing Guide.
Larkcom, J. 1991. Oriental vegetables: the complete guide for garden and kitchen. London: John Murray.
Oregon State University. 2004. Zucchini and Summer Squash. Commercial Vegetable Production Guides.