Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

THE LAND WHERE LEMONS GROW: The Story of Italy and its Citrus Fruit by Helena Attlee

  • Written by  Mick Herron
  • Published in Books
THE LAND WHERE LEMONS GROW: The Story of Italy and its Citrus Fruit by Helena Attlee
01 May
2014
The author’s citrus adventures began when, visiting a garden in the Veneto, she picked up a piece of fallen fruit and learned ‘the only lesson an ignorant orange thief could understand’: that Seville oranges are bitter enough to cauterise the tongue

Since then, her love affair with her subject has blossomed, its highlights including tracking down the casts from which the famous Medici collection of wax fruit was made (casts recently rediscovered, but possessing a ‘quasi-magical ability to get lost’), and encountering a ‘bizzarria’, a chimera of a fruit produced by the grafting together of two citrus species.

It’s clear from Attlee’s tales that citrus fruit enrich Italian history the way that the juice of sour oranges flavours a tortoise pie (recipe included): the citrus groves of Sicily are still sometimes called ‘paradisi’, in a nod to their Islamic origins (and some are still irrigated using ninth-century Arabic systems), and a 12th- century rebellion in Piedmont
is annually celebrated in the Battle of the Oranges.

Among the best of the stories here is that of the professor of arboriculture at Palermo, who, as a student, had studied an irrigation system installed in a local mandarin grove. The farmer had given him a key to get in – a detail later cited in the farmer’s defence when he was charged with being a mafioso: how could his farm be a heroin refinery when he allowed a student free access? His downfall came when the student’s testimony indicated how often the locks were changed, barring his entry.

THE LAND WHERE LEMONS GROW: The Story of Italy and its Citrus Fruit by Helena Attlee, Particular Books, £20

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Films

The uplifting story of a remarkable man who sailed the…

Books

by John Higgs • Weidenfeld & Nicolson • £20/£11 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Lewis Dartnell • Bodley Head • £18.99 (hardback)

Books

by Richard Williams • Polity Books • £15.99 (paperback)

Books

by Nicholas Jubber • John Murray Press • £20 (hardback)

Books

by Rob Dunn • Basic Books • £22.99 (hardback)

Books

by Edward Davey • Unbound • £9.99 (paperback)

Exhibitions

From July 2019 to February 2020, the Oxford University Natural…

Books

by Stephen Smith • Polity Books • £15.99 (paperback)

Books

by David Barrie • Hodder & Stoughton • £25 (hardback)

Books

by Juliet Blaxland • Sandstone Press • £9.99 (paperback)

Books

by Bill McKibben • Wildfire • £20 (hardback)

Exhibitions

A new exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery flies forward 100…

Exhibitions

From 12 July through to 10 November, the Fondation Cartier…

Reviews

A relaxed podcast, in which actor David Oakes interviews professionals…

Exhibitions

Exploring ideas of identity, heritage and life after trauma, Bahith…

Books

by Alex Rogers • Wildfire • £20 (hardback)

Films

An ‘environmental thriller’ focusing on the lives of campaigners working…

Exhibitions

The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition is open to visitors…

Films

In this moving, sometimes harrowing film from director Anthony Woodley,…