Scillato is a town that lies in the Himera River valley, at the feet of the Regional Madonie Park, near Palermo. Ancient spring waters enrich the land, which boasts gardens, olive groves and fruit orchards. The countryside is characterized by flourishing citrus groves that have many particular varieties of fruit that are both late blooming and succulent.
But this territory is first and foremost the production area of a particular apricot: local farmers have always known that this variety is considered to be a special fruit. In fact, people used to come from all over, following the fame of the apricot’s fragrance and taste.
This apricot is an early-blooming variety, with small, intensely flavored fruit that are often many shades of red and extremely fragrant. Harvest begins at the end of May and usually lasts two to three weeks. The cultivation is traditional: each year the trees are trimmed, there are no chemical treatments used – neither on the ground nor on the fruit – and the apricots are handpicked using a ladder. The trees, between 30 and 40 years old, are quite large. The fruit is sensitive to handing and transportation and thus they are marketed only to nearby areas.
All of the rural families in Scillato prepare a delicious apricot jam each year. But still, pressure from more profitable products and more dynamic markets have pushed this variety to the edge of extinction.
The fruit begins to mature at the beginning of May and generally lasts two to three weeks.