Exploring Green Gold in Italy

Mt Etna
image courtesy of M.Masciullo

Bronte is a journey into history and tourism intertwined in part with British culture and home to the exclusive cultivation of pistachios in Italy.

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Bronte, a town at the foot of Mount Etna in the province of Catania, Sicily, is rich in cultural, monumental, and artistic treasures, especially churches, some of which were lost due to earthquakes. Still present are the Church of S. Blandano, the Church of the Sacred Heart, Casa Radice, and Collegio Capizzi, one of the most important cultural and tourist centers on the entire island.

Thirteen kilometers from Bronte lies the “Castle of Lord Horatio Nelson,” received as a gift from Ferdinand I, King of Naples, in 1798, as a token of gratitude to the British admiral for his assistance in escaping the revolutionaries of the Neapolitan Republic during the Bourbon era. In addition to the castle, Nelson was conferred the title of the first Duke of Bronte. The complex, which became the property of the municipality of Bronte in 1981 and has been renovated, has been converted into part museum and part center for studies and conferences.

MARIO Nelsons Castle | eTurboNews | eTN

Bronte’s connection with the British kingdom

The name of the Sicilian town became indissolubly linked to that of the British kingdom due to the admiration of the Irish Reverend Patrick Prunty (or Brunty) for Nelson during the time Bronte also served as the seat of the British admiral’s duchy. The town acquired the name of the admiral as its surname, the same as the daughters Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, who lived in the Victorian era of the 19th century, known as the Brontë sisters, authors of novels recognized as “eternal masterpieces of English literature.” As handed down by history.

Pistachio, known as the “green gold” at the foot of Mount Etna

If the novels of the Brontë sisters continue to inspire dreams and emotions of readers worldwide, and have inspired renowned Italian and English directors to keep the destination Bronte alive through their films, two champions have joined in promoting the Bronte region globally through the cultivation and production of sweets with pistachios.

Meeting Nino Marino at the rural building of the extensive Bronte estate exclusively cultivated with pistachio trees, sitting under a grapevine pergola with a view of Mount Etna’s constant activity signaled by a faint column of smoke, breakfast was served. Stimulated by questions about how he created the “Pisti” confectionery industry, Nino (as co-founder with his friend Vincenzo Longhitano) proudly recounts venturing into what seemed like an impossible mission at the age of twenty in 2003. Unfamiliar with the art of pastry, they ventured into making pistachio sweets and presented them at the Cibus fair in Parma (gastronomy salon).

“Yet, it was a tremendous success: we returned home with dozens of contacts. Among them, important clients, including supermarkets that we still serve today. We then understood that our dream could come true. 

Buyers called us, but we didn’t have a working base. We bought the building of a body shop. Today, that building has become an industry… “I prefer to call it a large laboratory with local manpower, artisanal production as per ancient tradition, with very careful attention to the choice of raw materials, ‘the high-quality pistachio from Bronte,’ and the production processes of the products.” “We are artisans, from the countryside to the finished product. With pistachios, we can do things that big multinational companies couldn’t do,” Nino concludes.

Now in their forties, Nino and Vincenzo lead a company, “Pistì,” approaching 30 million euros in revenue, with 110 employees, exporting to over forty countries, and, most importantly, a company that produces a complete range of products from the plant to the shelf.

Bronte is universally recognized as the city of pistachios. In the hostile arid terrain, the plant miraculously draws nourishment from volcanic rock and, fertilized by the ash continuously expelled by the volcano, produces the finest quality pistachios. The pistachio is a large and long-lived plant, adapting well to dry and shallow soils, growing very slowl, and taking at least 5-6 years before bearing fruit. Prolonged cold in late spring can compromise its production.

MARIO pistachio | eTurboNews | eTN

From the Babylonians to the Brontesi

The pistachio, a fruit with ancient history known to the Babylonians, Assyrians, Jordanians, Greeks, mentioned in the Book of Genesis and recorded on the obelisk erected by the king of Assyria around the 6th century BC, is an agri-food product that has contributed to shaping the cultural-gastronomic heritage of Mediterranean peoples. The plant, whose life can reach 300 years, belongs to the Anacardiaceae family, Pistacia genus. In Italy, it was imported by the Romans in 20 AD, but it was only between the 8th and 9th centuries that cultivation spread to Sicily, thanks to Arab domination. Of this precious fruit, Bronte, the town at the foot of Mount Etna, represents the Italian capital. The D.O.P. (Protected Designation of Origin) Bronte green pistachio is now known worldwide. The D.O.P. guarantees its origin in a specific delimited area in Bronte (CT) and ensures the quality of the product through strict controls by the consortium to protect the end consumer. The D.O.P. pistachio is also called “Green Gold” for its peculiarities and precious characteristics.

WHAT TO TAKE AWAY FROM THIS ARTICLE:

  • The town acquired the name of the admiral as its surname, the same as the daughters Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, who lived in the Victorian era of the 19th century, known as the Brontë sisters, authors of novels recognized as “eternal masterpieces of English literature.
  • The name of the Sicilian town became indissolubly linked to that of the British kingdom due to the admiration of the Irish Reverend Patrick Prunty (or Brunty) for Nelson during the time Bronte also served as the seat of the British admiral’s duchy.
  • If the novels of the Brontë sisters continue to inspire dreams and emotions of readers worldwide, and have inspired renowned Italian and English directors to keep the destination Bronte alive through their films, two champions have joined in promoting the Bronte region globally through the cultivation and production of sweets with pistachios.

About the author

Avatar of Mario Masciullo - eTN Italy

Mario Masciullo - eTN Italy

Mario is a veteran in the travel industry.
His experience extends worldwide since 1960 when at the age of 21 he started exploring Japan, Hong Kong, and Thailand.
Mario has seen the World Tourism develop up to date and witnessed the
destruction of the root/testimony of the past of a good number of countries in favor of modernity/progress.
During the last 20 years Mario's travel experience has concentrated in South East Asia and of late included the Indian Sub Continent.

Part of Mario's work experience includes multi activities in the Civil Aviation
field concluded after organizing the kik off of for Malaysia Singapore Airlines in Italy as an Institutor and continued for 16 years in the role of Sales /Marketing Manager Italy for Singapore Airlines after the split of the two governments in October 1972.

Mario's official Journalist license is by the "National Order of Journalists Rome, Italy in 1977.

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