Calabria in bloom

Flavours and scents of the fields
Calabria in fiore

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Food and wine

Those who think that Calabrian cuisine is all about chilli peppers and strong flavours are wrong.

A new way of discovering gastronomy in Calabria is through the four seasons, with the flowers and fruits dispensed in abundance in this land between two seas.

Visiting Calabria in spring, for example, means savouring the scents and natural essences that are released among the field grasses. Elements that are to all intents and purposes part of the local gastronomic culture, as well as of the healthier Mediterranean Diet.

Calabria in bloom is an explosion of essences, colours and landscapes to be discovered.

Dining with flowers, from peach to bergamot

The spring flowering period in Calabria, between March and June, is ideal for approaching a cuisine that is far from stereotypical, yet rich in tradition and identity.

A cuisine that draws on the oldest botanical and naturalistic knowledge and truly puts spring on your plate.

From north to south, Calabria in bloom wears all the colours of the Mediterranean and it sets a table of first fruits, ancient fruits and recovered biodiversity.

Starting from the Pollino National Park, on the slopes of which the peach orchards appear to us like an explosion of deep pink and fuchsia flowers, we arrive at the end of the Strait of Messina, intoxicated by the orange blossom scent of the Bergamot of Reggio Calabria DOP.

The blossoming peach trees of Pollino cover the foothill valleys in pink, alternating with the Terre di Cosenza DOC vineyards.

From the Cosentine side of Castrovillari and Morano Calabro (one of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy) to the Piana di Sibari is a boundless expanse of peach blossoms.

Before the succulent fruit ripens, these flowers grace the Calabrian spring table as much in aesthetic decoration as in salads and as an edible garnish for seasonal recipes, accompanying Mozzarella di Campotenese and the high-quality Sibari rice.

From flower to flower, we travel the length of the region until we reach the province of Reggio Calabria and its bergamot plantations, the so-called "Green Gold of Calabria".

To get to know the secrets of the Bergamot of Reggio Calabria DOP at first hand, it is necessary to stop off in the city and visit the Citrus Museum. Here you can admire the machinery used for extracting the juice and essence, the two basic elements of the process, such as the famous "Gangeri" Bergamot Machine, derived from a model invented in 1840 by Nicola Barillà.

Regione Calabria

Alongside bergamot, the museum exhibits documents and materials related to the processing of two other precious indigenous Calabrian essences, used both at the table and in cosmetics: jasmine and opium poppy.

Bergamot, with its unparalleled organoleptic properties, is not only one of the world's most sought-after perfume essences, but is also used as a pastry ingredient in creams, jams, ice creams, liqueurs and drinks.

Honey, herbs and essences of Calabria

The spring blooms in Calabria are also important for a number of derived products, such as the delicious Calabrian honey.

An aromatic, Mediterranean honey, which in addition to drawing on the classic essences (millefiori, chestnut, acacia, honeyed, etc.) is presented with niche varieties, capable of tempting even the most refined palates.

A few examples? You absolutely must try orange blossom honey, strawberry tree honey, eucalyptus honey, sulla honey (the fuchsia flower that carpets Calabrian meadows along with broom) and, of course, fragrant bergamot honey.

Calabrian beekeeping is on the rise and every year yields more and more sought-after products that can be enjoyed naturally, on the classic slice of bread and butter, or paired with Calabrian PDO sheep's milk cheeses, which in spring are enjoyed with broad beans and guanciale (pork cheek).

Regione Calabria

Herbs and wild-growing field products include asparagus, wild thistles and artichokes, chicory and nettles.

The former, perfect with fresh eggs and country omelettes, the latter, delicious in soups, side dishes and gourmet risottos.

Lastly, flowers and fruits of the undergrowth to be admired and picked in respect of nature in the three Calabrian national parks (Pollino, Sila and Aspromonte) and in the Regional Nature Reserves, such as the Bosco Archiforo and Serre Vibonesi, where the rainy season alternating with the first warm sun gives varieties of prized spring mushrooms.

Last update: Feb 16, 2024 10:25 AM