Teachers' Blog

Cool-weather Italian Citrus

Did you know that the cool weather season is when Italian citrus fruits are at their peak?

Discovering this was a big suprise for me, since didn't grow up in a a citrus-producing area.  Throughout the year, I was just used to drinking orange juice and seeing oranges at the supermarket so I had never stopped to think about the timing of the harvest.

Certainly orange juice and citrus fruits can also be found in Italian supermarkets throughout the year, but inarguably the BEST time to enjoy them is the winter. 

In Italy, citrus fruits are harvested in the cooler months, so you'll never have a tastier orange than this time of year. The sweet blood orange is one of my personal favorites!

A citrus tip: a typical Italian coffee bar can probably make you a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice, which can be absolutely divine when the oranges are in their prime!  

Since Italy is a country with a great diversity of micro-climates, there are many local sub-varieties of citrus fruits.  For example, some little-known Italian sub-varieties of oranges include the “Biondo di Montalbano,” “Staccia,”  and “Biondo di Tursi" from Basilicata, the bitter "melangolo" of Puglia, and the  “Biondo tardivo di San Giuseppe” from Calabria.  

In addition to oranges, lemons, grapefruits, etc there are some citrus fruits grown here in Italy that you might have never heard of: like citron, chinotto, and the very peculiar pompìa from Sardinia.  

I'm certainly not an expert in citrus by any means, but I really enjoy making new discoveries, and I encourage you to keep your eyes open for local specialties in the midst of your travels around Italy.  Happy exploring!

Lisa Nonken

Academic Director and Professor of Visual Arts