The Bergamot: Exploring the Origins of Calabria’s Fruit

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The Bergamot: Exploring the Origins of Calabria’s Fruit

Bergamot is a typically Calabrian citrus fruit, known as the “fruit of health,” which has gained the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) label. It grows along the Coast of Jasmine where the ideal climatic conditions for flowering are created. It is not only famous for its health properties but also because it is used in cooking and because a very aromatic and fragrant oil can be extracted from it. Bergamot juice is antioxidant-rich and full of vitamins. It is considered a natural stress reliever, as well as an effective warrior against hair loss and dandruff. It also boasts anti-inflammatory actions and helps control cholesterol. However, it has a high concentration of citric acid, which is why daily intake is not recommended.

 

Interestingly, planting a Bergamot seed will result in a bitter orange tree growing. The climate of Calabria ensures excellent yields, although particular attention must be paid in winter. Constant watering of the soil will result in impressive growth of at least three meters in height. Officially, the first bergamot plantation on record dates back to 1750. It was a man named Nicola Parisi who planted it on his property and started production. The name Bergamot, however, has ancient origins. Some theories trace it back to the city of Berga (in Catalonia), but also to one of the Canary Islands. Some even go as far as linking the etymology to the Turkish term Berg-a-mundi (“Lord’s pear”). While some speculate on its importation from China, the truth may never be known. However, two legends are known. The first is that Bergamot was reportedly offered to Emperor Charles V as he passed through Rome in the 16th century. The second tells of when a Moor from Spain sold a branch to lords in Reggio Calabria who grafted it onto a bitter orange tree. The Agrumario Museum in Reggio Calabria displays the machinery used for juice and essence extraction, including the famous Gangeri Bergamot Machine.

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