On the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, multi-generation Italina growers
harvest the finest pistachios on earth. These pistachios account for
less than 1% of the world's production. They have a rich green color
and an extraordinary flavor, and are the only pistachios in the world
to have been certified by the International Slow Food Institute.
This variety of pistachio grows in the rugged lands of Bronte,
in southern Italy, and nowhere else in Europe. It is only here that
the pistachios acquire such a brilliant emerald green color and
such an intense, resinous and full fraganc. Perched on the steep
roads between the Etna volcano and the Park of Nebrodi, Bronte's
livelihood depends on pistachio; the people of Bronte grow them, sell
them and turn them into sweet, creams and sauces. The trees are not
fertilized, nor are they watered for there is a very little water in
that area. They require minimal attention and are pruned only a couple
of times to remove the dead brances and shoots in the "fallow" years.
The pistachio tree produces its nuts one year and rests the following
year. it is during the following season. After a two-year wait, the harvest
is a crucial time. Between the end of August and the beginning of September
the town is empty, with everyone working in the "loci" (the local name
for the pistachio orchards). Women, children and even the elderly.
The operation is almost ecrobatic. Balanced on blocks of lava, people
hold onto the brances with one hand and with the other pick the pistachio
nuts, one by one, dropping them into a canvas bag tied around their neck.
In a day's work, they manage to pick 20 kilos of pistachios at the most.
On Flat lands a sheet can be spread out under the tree to make it easier
to gather the nuts.