A fruit from mysterious origins has become an important economic source of the Calabrian economy. This is the bergamot, citrus cultivated in Reggio Calabria, famous in the world for its essential oils. From the kitchen to cosmetics passing through medicine, there are many uses of its intense and fragrant essence.
How much mystery can be behind citrus? Understanding the origins of Reggio Calabria bergamot means taking a trip over time and around the world. There are those who talk about China, Greece, Spain. There are those who claim that it brought him Cristoforo Columbus from the Canary Islands or coming from Turkey and the Turkish name Beg Armudi, pear of the Lord. In reality, the most accredited hypothesis is that bergamot derives from a spontaneous mutation of bitter orange or lime, which took place in the surroundings of Reggio Calabria at the end of the seventeenth century. From here it has no more moved: in fact, the world production of this fruit is practically concentrated in Calabria alone.
First of all the colour, a bright yellow-green, almost fluorescent. Very thin and rich peel of essential oils and with the pulp that recalls the outside, but of a lighter tone. In tasting it is acid and bitter. It is a plant that tolerates temperature changes and excessive rains, while loves the heat. The plantations often look towards the sea and are for this reason that the bergamot trees are surrounded by rows of pine or olive trees that have the task of arresting the strong events of the Strait of Messina. A long enough tree that can last a half-century, becomes productive after the first five years.
We are talking about a DOP that has three cultivars: the Feminello, the most productive is small smooth; The Castagnaro with a wrinkled look and the most important dimensions; The fantastic, the most widespread species, with an elongated shape. The different maturations coincide with the different uses. The more yellow fruit is ideal for extraction of essential oil, the green one is used in the confectionery industry and in cosmetics, while the bergamot fell from the tree and therefore from the more boost maturation it is used in the preparation of the liquors and for the Extraction of an essence called Neroli. Not least, the use of juice is spreading, thanks above all to the beneficial properties against bad cholesterol and the lowering of sugars in the blood.
Where bergamot is born
The area, which stretches for about a hundred kilometres to the Ionian coast of Regio, is not large, but it has a fine microclimate, thanks to the heat and good humidity provided by the rivers that flow through the valleys of the region. Sirocco winds bring rain during the winter months. A set of concise that have made this small area south of Calabria a blessed place for the cultivation of this citrus fruit. The attempts were also made elsewhere – as in Ivory Coast – but the final result is not comparable to that of the dedicated area.
Full of benefits
Bergamot is very rich in vitamin C, B1, B2, A and E., therefore, carries out an excellent action against bone disorders, it helps the absorption of football, improves muscle tone, fights anaemia and sintenities better iron. It is a powerful antioxidant, limiting the production of free radicals. It can also be an ally in the care of beauty: in fact, its antiseptic properties normalize the excess of sebum and fight the bottle. Also try against rheumatic pain and cystitis. Furthermore, its intense citrus odor puts a good mood and can be a valid support against the mood under tone, maybe caused by the darkest seasons of autumn and winter: two drops of essence on the pillow in the evening before sleeping or In a diffuser hanging from radiators and spring he will immediately seem to enter the house.
The curiosities related to bergamot
In the courts of the nobles of the 8th century, the bergamot entered to replace stronger and more spicy aromas and in a short time stated as the preferred essence from the blazed heads of all of Europe. The city of Cologne for example gives the name to the water of Cologne which is nothing is water of bergamot based toiletries, invented by the Italian Gian Paolo Feminis. Paris however remained the city from which we started the trends and essential oils of the Calabrian fruit also finished in pastry thanks to the Sicilian Procopio Dei Knives which, transferred to Paris, founded the “Caffè Procopie” in 1686, the oldest coffee in the world.
Here the well-known pastry chef tried his hand at granitas and bergamot sorbets which are still today among the must-haves of the famous brand. The demand for essential oil was such that the so-called “spiritual masters” or “smokers” were born in the Reggio area, particularly skilled in treating or selecting the fruit, working the rind and extracting the essence. In the mid-19th century, mechanical work was carried out thanks to the invention of the “Calabrian machine – a sort of peeler that rasped the surface of the fruit – which increased the quantity and quality of the extract.