Hazelnuts have always been present in Campania; so much so that this region is said to be have the oldest history of hazelnut cultivation in Italy. From the third century BC onwards, numerous Latin writers and poets, from Cato to Virgil and Pliny, attest to its presence in Campania and in the excavations in Herculaneum there is a brightly coloured fresco portraying hazelnuts. We have to wait until the Middle Ages, however, to find definite information about specialised hazelnut growing in Campania. In the Irno and Picentini valleys in the province of Salerno, the Tonda di Giffoni (Giffoni Round), one of the best Italian varieties, originates and grows. Thanks to its excellent quality, it achieved the well-deserved IGP recognition in 1997. Already towards the end of the eighteenth century Vincenzo De Caro, a historian from Salerno, wrote about his homeland, the Giffoni area: "it is known to all that the hazelnut tree flourishes wonderfully in most areas of our property". A happy encounter that gave rise to a hazelnut with extraordinary morphological and organoleptic characteristics. This hazelnut has all the best qualities of a product for industrial processing, especially its shape and the ease with which it can be peeled. The Tonda di Giffoni is round, with a minimum calibre of 18 millimetres; the shell is medium thick and light brown with dark streaks. The shelled seed is round with white, firm and aromatic flesh, an internal skin that is easy to remove and a flavour that consumers particularly like. It resists well to roasting and ensures excellent quality products (pasta, chopped nuts and whole hazelnuts) mainly used for high quality confectionery, which is why it is in such high demand by this industry. The Giffoni hazelnut is still widely cultivated today, especially in its area of origin, the Irno Valley and the Monti Picentini, where there are the 12 communes of the IGP label.




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