CARIATI - ITALY
When I first crossed the main gate of Cariati’s old town (Porta Pia) and walked through the alleys that barely separate the buildings, I almost felt as intruding into someone’s space…
This South Eastern Italian town is mostly built with ivory and pale yellow stone, once collected by farmers and fishermen from dried rain-river beds (“fiumare”). Under the strong summer sun, the pavement and walls brighten, creating an all-around embracing glow. The very narrow alleys, to the contrary, form perfect shelters from light and heat, ideal for the locals to carry out daily activities.
Thought to be first established as a farmers’ settlement, Cariati was shaped by centuries of invasions into an ideal outpost, with higher ground visibility and capable of defending its internal and surrounding population. Tightly clustered within its walls on top of a hill, the small town oversees the surrounding land and more recent constructions as they peacefully extend all the way to the golden sand beaches.
In a similar way, when venturing outside of town, two things stand out: 1) the vibrant green of extensive medium-height citrus fields and 2) the towering presence of multi-century old olive trees. Even though not the oldest in South Italy, olive trees in this region can date up to more than 900 years ago. They stand like still giants, looking callous, contorted and strong. Somehow alive and ancient at the same time, these giants ensue feelings of both protection and scrutinizing oversight. In certain areas they line up in rows, one after the other, in other, they venture alone among the shorter citrus trees.
Among those trees are Bergamot trees, a unique type of citrus indigenous to Calabria. From the Latin “citrus bergamia” and in English also referred to as “Bergamot Orange”, bergamot is an incredibly fragrant citrus with unique bitter-sweet notes. Although not widely known, bergamots and their essential oils have been key ingredients to earl grey tea and many refined fragrances for years. It is therefore just a short step away to think of capturing this unique flavor and fragrance in a velvety liqueur, delicate to the smell and taste.”