Bergamot is Calabria’s anti-Covid-19 gold

18.2.2021

PROPERTIES

Bergamot could be the weapon capable of inhibiting the coronavirus. Bergamot is full of vitamin C and flavonoids that make it an excellent cholesterol lowering agent and an antibacterial potentially capable of inhibiting Covid-19, according to a recent study from the universities of Milan and Genoa.

In the past, the research of the University La Sapienza in Rome, carried out in collaboration with the Universities “Vita-Salute” of Genoa and “San Raffaele” of Milan, shed light on the potential of Naringenin, which would be able to inhibit infectious process of Covid-19.

The hills of Calabria, the land of Bergamot

MARKET AND HISTORY

In Italian houses, 3,000 tons of bergamots are transformed per year into juice, jams, honey, hydro-alcoholic gels, but above all into essential oil. This small green citrus fruit with powerful properties is the object of a juicy business in southern Italy: 90% of its production comes solely from the hills of Calabria. Like the lemon tree, bergamot comes from a cross-made from bitter orange. The Arabs who long occupied Calabria in the middle Ages could have imported it.

Narigenina

A NEW PERSPECTIVE AGAINST COVID-19

The intuition was born in the laboratory of the Unit of Histology and Medical Embryology of Antonio Filippini, at the Roman University: it was thought that the proliferation of the coronavirus could be prevented by inhibiting a specific molecular target responsible for the progression of the virus as soon as it enters the cell. Currently, the study is in the verification phase and the results of the first tests seem to confirm the original intuition of the Italian researchers.

Naringenin, as the Italian Society of Pharmacology explains, is a compound of the flavonoid family, which is commonly found in plants. It has antioxidant and immune system modulating activity, is found in large amounts in grapefruit, bergamot and, to a lesser extent in lemon, oranges and tangerines. Above all, naringenin, the very molecule at the center of the anti-Covid-19 scientific study, derived from the polyphenol contained in bergamot juice, in addition to the “anti-cholesterol” activity which has just been seen, increases the uptake of glucose in the muscles and the liver, therefore it helps to lower blood sugar and improve insulin activity.

The one against the Coronavirus is only the last frontier on the benefits of bergamot on health. There are, in fact, several scientific studies, which show how the flavonoids contained in bergamot have an action very similar to that of synthetic statins, that is to say, they block the enzymes of cholesterol synthesis.

S. Raffaele Institute

In fact, other studies then show how the use of bergamot juice also helps lower the levels of LDL, “bad” cholesterol, and increase the levels of HDL, “good” cholesterol.

Bergamot, given the high content of vitamins C, B1, B2, which improve iron absorption, is useful in supporting therapy for anemia. Green gold from Calabria is an excellent appetite stimulant and, due to its high content of critical acid, is effective against intestinal parasites.

Finally, the antioxidant properties of bergamot juice increase the activity of enzymes with antioxidant action, limit the production of free radicals on the walls of blood vessels and neutralize inflammatory mechanisms.

Bivongi Wine: a protected denomination (DOC)

15.1.2021

If you hear of a delicious white, red or “Rosè” wine, coming from the town of Bivongi, you are talking about  a rare Bivongi “Bianco” (an Italian word meaning “white wine”), an authentic Mediterranean and Calabrian wine rated DOC (a so called protected denomination, acronym of “Denominazione di Origine Controllata”).

The white version of this wine is relatively rare. The red and rosè wines represent the majority of production (Bivongi “Rosso” is two years old before commercial release, of course after six months in barrel). The latter are made from grapes of Gaglioppo, Greco Nero, Nocera and Calabrese (Nero d’Avola). The white comes from Greco Bianco, Malvasia Bianca and Ansonica grapes.

The Bivongi wine is Sparkling when white, intense when red or rosè, and it is rated DOC since 1996. Bivongi DOC was formed in that year (1996) to represent the small amount of hectares planted way down on the east coast of Calabria’s toe shaped peninsula, while the more famous Ciro is on the north of the same coast and the Greco di Bianco DOC is just on the south.

Here main features of Bivongi DOC (the white wine, the best):

  • Alcool 10.5%,
  • Color: straw yellow,
  • Flavour: winey, pleasant,
  • Taste: dry, harmonic, fruity. It should be served at 45º – 49º Fahrenheit, 8º – 10º Celsius (perfect for Seafood in general).

According the official regulations, Bivongi white wine can be produced with varying blends of Greco, Montonico Bianco, Ansonica and Malvasia. Red wine is made with Gaglioppo and / or Greco Nero, while some Castiglione, Nero d’Avola and Nocera are also permitted.

THE LAND OF THE WINE

The white wine, the red and rosè versions are all produced inside the small cluster of hills on south of Catanzaro.

Further Bivongi DOC wine is produced in an area that includes 11 municipalities between the province of Reggio Calabria and the one of Catanzaro. The area has a high potential in wine production since the ancient Magna Graecia, creating a great impact on the local economy. Precisely, the production zone of Bivongi DOC includes the villages of Bivongi, Camini, Caulonia, Monasterace, Pazzano, Placanica, Riace, Stignano and Stilo in the Province of Reggio Calabria, and the village of Guardavalle in Province of Catanzaro.

No surprise that Bivongi wine has remained relatively unknown in the wine world outside Italy, given that introduction of the DOC title is only 1996. Further, another reason for being ignored is that the wine is made from vineyards in the municipalities of Bivongi, Caulonia, Monasterace, Riace and Stilo, and all of these are cut off, inside the Reggio Calabria province, from the main national wine trade; explaining why the wine is normally for local use.

Now, the area, where geographically the vineyards, are planted is the zone forming the ball of Italy’s ‘foot’, an area signed by coastal hills, the “Serre” mountain chain and the rivers, which flow towards the Ionian Sea. Therefore, due to the mountains nearby, the vineyards of Bivongi wines are located on the eastern side of the hills (in an area with a more temperate climate), mostly among the lower slopes and within a few miles of the sea. The proximity of the Mediterranean Sea is important to the terroir, but, at the same time, the producers are far from main communication routes. Therefore, this delicious and authentic Mediterranean wine is a real hidden treasure.

The mesoclimate of the area helps the high quality of the grapes. Namely, the sea helps to moderate the intense heat of the south Italian summer, and the alternation of cooling and heating generates during the day morning and afternoon breezes, which minimize the risk of fungal vine diseases. The special mesoclimatic area is large and covers Guardavalle, a municipality in the colder north of Catanzaro province.

The climatic conditions at Bivongi are magnificent, while inside the DOC Zone the other nine municipalities in the provinces of Reggio Calabria and Catanzaro, have refined, according to temperatures a little bit colder, the winemaking on the basis of traditional methods, obtaining a Bivongi wine based also on local grape varieties (such as the white Greco Bianco, Guardavalle and Montonico, and the red Gaglioppo, Greco Nero and Calabrese).

BRIEF NOTES ON BIVONGI TOWN

Bivongi is a charming little town in the north of the province of Reggio Calabria, only 8 miles from the Ionian Sea. In the past, Bivongi was better known for the woodcarving skills of its inhabitants, for its iron, silver and molybdenum mines, and for its thermal baths. Afterwards, its fame increased due to its mulberry trees, the production of wool, and its silkworm farms (called “vomvix” in Greek and believed to be at the origin of Bivongi’s name).

After this fascinating past, the village is nowadays situated on the slopes of Mount Consolino, where Bivongi dominates a valley rich with vineyards and olive groves, and crossed by the River Stilaro.