The melon (also called “popone”, particularly in Tuscany) is a herbaceous plant in the Cucurbitaceae family (like squash, watermelon, cucumber and courgette), whose fruit can be spherical or oval, with a tough rind and yellow, white or green flesh.
Melons are classified in different families according to the characteristics of their skin or flesh (smooth, webbed or warty).
There are two theories about the origin of melons: according to the first, they came from Asia or Africa and only arrived in Europe after the Middle Ages. But the second is that they originated in Greece and were already present in Roman times.
The emperor Tiberius (42 BC – 37 AD) loved melons, and invented their cultivation in greenhouses so they could be available all year round.
But the emperor Diocletian (244-311 AD) issued an edict on maximum prices, which taxed melons weighing more than 200 g.