Lying at the very heart of Sicilian cuisine, from pizza and pasta alla norma to aubergine based caponata, the pomodoro is the most basic, and probably the most important ingredient of all Sicilian food.
In the south east corner of Sicily, from Gela to Syracuse, twisting tomato vines are everywhere to be seen but in the hierarchy of tomato growing, it is the tomatoes from Pachino that steal the show, bursting with sweetness and flavour thanks to the soil and sun. Crunchier and sweeter than most varieties, around 200,000 tons of Pachino tomatoes are produced annually, generating a multi-million euro industry.
Four tomato varieties are included within the PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) classification, ranging in size from the cherry to the large salad tomato, in a production zone bordered by Noto, Portopalo di Capo Passero and Ispica.
Not surprisingly, there are several events dedicated to the Pachino tomato. In May, the Inverdurata, a veggie version of neighbouring Noto’s floral L’Infiorata, displays mosaic style pavement images created from tomatoes and other vegetables. A trade show of cherry tomato producers takes place in July and in August, the triple gastronomic heritage of the Pachino tomato, Nero d’Avola wine and blue fin tuna are celebrated at the Feast of the Three Kings.