Although citrus isn’t native to Italy, Italians have a long history with the juicy, sweet and sour fruits. We know Italian citrus as being one of the key ingredients to some of our favorite Italian foods and drinks so it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to live without delicious Italian ice flavors or limoncello at the end of a meal. Here are 6 different items that wouldn’t exist without Italian citrus:
San Pellegrino Aranciata
San Pellegrino started exporting soda water in 1899. Three decades later, in 1932, the company introduced the first "orangeade," known as San Pellegrino Aranciata. A blood orange version of the sparkling drink appeared in 2001. And then in 2019 as the seltzer craze reached a frenzy, the company released a line known as Essenza, a zero-calorie flavored seltzer drawing on citrus flavors like blood orange, lemon, and tangerine.
Perle Di Sole
First launched in 1979, these hard candies are similar to a lemon drop. The company has also introduced a blood orange flavor. In addition to the hard candies, the company produces chocolate and nougats with Italian citrus flavors, and exports the candies across the globe.
Lemon Italian Ice
Snow on the peaks around Mount Etna were used to create the first sorbet and granitas, shaved ice, in Sicily. When Italian immigrants settled in New York City, they recreated the treat, albeit with a slightly higher ratio of water. The first flavors available were lemon and orange, with cherry, vanilla, and other fruit flavors soon following. According to Andrew F. Smith in Savoring Gotham: A Food Lover's Companion to New York City, the iconic Italian ice brand Gino's was founded by Gino Broncanelli in Brooklyn in the 1950s.
Leone Lemon Candy
Luigi Leone launched his candy company in 1857 selling brightly colored pastilles. These now iconic candies started off with some basic flavors, including lemon. The chalky candies now come in dozens of flavors including citrus fruits like orange and tangerine.
This classic sodium bicarbonate powder is a lemon-flavored digestive. The tiny white tablets are added to water and when the drink begins to fizz, it's ready to drink. Galeffi has been around since the 1800s, but in recent years it's found a following among younger consumers, even claiming a coveted recommendation from New York Magazine's The Strategist. These are intended to be more medicinal than soda, but that doesn’t stop people from drinking it recreationally.
This Italian liqueur was originally produced along the southern coast of Italy. It had an unexpected boost in popularity in the United States after Danny Davito made a seemingly drunken appearance on The View and blamed George Clooney for making him drink seven limoncellos the night before.
Ian MacAllen is America Domani's Senior Correspondent and the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American. He is a writer, editor, and graphic designer living in Brooklyn. Connect with him at IanMacAllen.com or on Twitter @IanMacAllen.