Calabria is not a land usually associated with luxury and glamour. This region of Southern Italy (the tip of the boot, so to speak), with its 65% rate of youth unemployment, is in fact the poorest in Europe. As marvellous, with its forests of over one hundred-year-old larches and its cliffs overlooking the sea, as it is tortured by heinous politics and the heavy presence of the ndrangheta, the Calabrian mafia that has a stranglehold on social and economic activities.
And yet, it’s right here that the best “noses” on the planet come searching for what the local farmers call the “green gold”: bergamot. A fruit that’s a cross between citron, grapefruit and orange, it’s at the core of many products created by the perfume industry: frangrances, soap, candles,even marmalade and even Earl Grey.
Only grows within the province of Reggio Calabria,thanks to its particularly suited microclimate: a little zone of just a few squared kilometres,provides for the 95% of the entire world demand. Though it may be only a relative of the lemon to the layman, the bergamot is, for a maitre parfumier, a world of olfactory profiles that vary based on soil, age of the tree, time of harvest, and seasonal rainfall.
The search for the most prized essences in the world has brought Francois Demachy , Christian Dior perfume creator (Miss Dior,Farenheit,J’adore are his creatures), to a small town with a population of just 5000 inhabitants, San Carlo di Condofuri, unknown to the world until Maison Dior realized a 3 minutes documentary “The quest for essences”, in which you can follow the fascinating journey of the green gold, from the trees, til the elegant shops on the Champs Elysees. It is here that Capua 1880 is based: a fifth-generation family business that exclusively provides bergamot for the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy group’s perfumes.Unknown to the world until the Maison Dior realized a 3 minutes documentary “The quest for essences”, in which you can follow the fascinating journey of the green gold, from the trees, til the elegant shops on the Champs Elysees.
Every day, from November to March, bergamot season, 80 tonnes are delivered to the factory,where the skin is scrubbed and the zest crushed to be transformed into essential oil. It takes about 100 kilos of peel to make 500 grams of oil: once purified by a team of 8 chemists, it’s shipped out to Dior factories. So important for the industry because, said Demachy, “bergamot it’s like butter in cooking: it blends well with all the other ingredients , it’s not overpowering, not sweet like mandarin or powdery like roses”.
See “The quest for essences” on http://www.dior.com