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The hazel cultivation in Campania is of ancient origins and numerous testimonies are found both in Latin literature and in archaeological finds (just think of the charred remains of hazelnuts, exhibited at the National Museum of Naples and the famous frescoes of Pompeii and Herculaneum). Its diffusion in the rest of Italy seems to have started right from Campania, so much so that Linnaeus baptized the hazel tree as corylus avelana in 1753, a name deriving from the city of Avello (in the province of Avellino), where it was mainly widespread. Although the hazelnut trade already had an economic importance in the 17th century, its value was fully appreciated only in the Bourbon era. It then exploded in 900 following the strong demand from the confectionery industry. The Campania territory, among which the Picentini territory and the Irno valley certainly stand out, naturally lends itself to the hazel cultivation and manages to give it a unique peculiarity because of the lucky mixer of environmental and natural factors that characterize it. No wonder, Pliny the Elder already spoke of Campania Felix, above all for the fertility of its soil and the mildness of its climate. Just think that in the Neapolitan city there were special offices for weighing hazelnuts, already at the end of the seventeenth century; Besides, Naples played a crucial role in the hazelnut trade up to half of the past year: it was precisely from the port of Naples that large amouts of nuts were destined for France and Holland. The consecration of the Campania region as a birthplace of excellence comes with the attribution of the European PGI brand to the Tonda Giffoni Hazelnut in 1997, which has now become a star of typical Italian products.


Where it all began…