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Citrus fruits of Sicily: a multi-millennial history

Sicilian citrus fruits are, by now, a product appreciated and known all over the world, thanks to their extraordinary qualities.

However, it must be remembered that the history of citrus fruits is particularly long and complex, which starts even before the year 1000 BC: in fact, in this period, in southern China, the first crops began to appear, and then, between the VIII and the seventh century, landed in Iraq.

It should be specified that only thanks to the appearance of citrus groves in Greece that the whole Mediterranean, around the first century BC. and the first century AD, managed to come into contact with these plantations, unique and precious. A fundamental role also played by Muslims who, thanks to an improvement in irrigation systems, managed to increase the production of oranges, lemons and cedars.

Only in the 1800s, however, did Sicilian citrus fruits begin to have their fame, due to the Napoleonic continental block. From this moment, in fact, Sicily, occupied by the British, began to increase its citrus production, in order to respond to specific supply needs, also linked to the presence of the Royal Navy and the English armies.

It is no coincidence that this period was characterized by the territorial modification of the crops, recording a significant expansion of the land dedicated to orange and lemon groves, which came to produce about 3 million quintals of citrus fruits, to reach 5 million quintals in the Giolittian period.

Such positive levels from a production point of view made Sicily among the main citrus exporting regions at an international level: USA, England and Russia increased their demand more and more, even by 6 times.

Today, the Sicilian cultivated lands reach 85,000 hectares, which coincide with 60% of the entire national crop, producing about 16 million quintals of citrus fruit annually.

Sicily creates truly unique products, impossible to reproduce anywhere else in the world: blood pigmentation and unmistakable flavor are among the characteristics of oranges, recalling typical aromas and essences of this land.