The Calabrian Bergamot is a citrus fruit growing in a plot of land overlooking the Ionian Sea, at the toe of the Italian boot. Its essence is used in the making of the most prestigious fragrances on the international scene.
Oranges, lemons and citrons came all the way from China, through the Middle East, and became a fixture in the gardens of the aristocratic mansions and in the cloisters of the monasteries of Southern Italy. Centuries passed before citrus trees began to be considered more than mere ornamental plants, but recognised for the exceptional nutritional value of their fruits. Bergamot is one of the numerous local products which the Calabrians have any right to be proud of. The uniqueness of the Calabrian Bergamot is perhaps due to a spontaneous bud mutation of the lemon, or a hybridisation between the bitter orange and the citron or the lemon. The Calabrian Bergamot comes out and grows exclusively in the province of Reggio Calabria and near the Ionian coast, at altitudes inferior to 250m.
The bergamot essential oil
The essential oil in the peel is clear, with tinges of yellowy green, a fresh smell and a bitter taste. The Calabrian Bergamot oil is widely utilised in the making of perfumes and colognes, especially French, but its worth has found international recognition in the pharmaceutical, chemical and food industries, as well. Bergamot is also present in a number of liqueurs and desserts. The extraction of bergamot oil was carried out manually until the process was mechanised in 1840. Nowadays, the bergamot industry can count on the most advanced technologies.
The recognition of the Calabrian Bergamot
The bergamot growers of Calabria have undertaken a series of practices for the recognition of the Calabrian Bergamot, including the DOP (Protected Designation of Origin which was awarded in 2001), the creation of groups that monitor fruit processing and oil sales, and technical innovation. The Consortium for the Protection of the Calabrian Bergamot was created in 1936. Other associations have appeared in the recent years, as a common effort for the promotion of the Calabrian Bergamot.