Mister Basil

November 29, 2011 / Food & Wine
Celle Ligure, Liguria

This is the story of Paolo Calcagno, “Mister Basil”. He knows everything about this special aromatic plant. He has dedicated more than 25 years of his life to growing basil and thanks to him, his family and collaborators, it has paid off. His basil has obtained the much sought-after D.O.P. certification, which stands for “Denominazione di Origine Protetta” (Protected Designation of Origin). Besides local homes, the markets, and the best restaurants in the area, his basil is also used for the Genoa Pesto World Championship.

He was very young when he began this activity. When he came back home from the military service he wanted to follow his grandfather’s and father’s steps in the farm. His grandfather began to cultivate olive trees in 1929 to which his father added strawberries and vegetables. In that period Paolo had a hunch and wanted to experiment with the cultivation of basil. He used high quality seeds and soon, thanks also to the his farm’s position on the sunny hills perched over the Ligurian sea and to his passion he had success.

Since then Paolo has never stopped. His energy, knowledge, hard work and ability in managing the entire operation are incredible. His basil-growing process is quality controlled by caring hands at each step of the cycle. He always wants to bring awareness to the customer and it has paid off… he can provide enough basil to make pesto sauce for more than 6,000 people everyday!

His farm worth a visit… a great chance to learn more about the real “basilico genovese” from Mr.Basil himself.

Azienda Agricola Calcagno Paolo

Anna Merulla

by Anna Merulla

Founder of Beautiful Liguria, a travel concierge service that offers everything from tour planning, hiking excursions, cooking lessons, personal shopping and much more in this great region. In 2009 she decided to begin sharing her personal knowledge of the beauty, the culture, and the history of Liguria in which she’s immersed every day.

10 Responses to “Mister Basil”

  1. Now that winter weather is upon us in the midwest, I long for the sweet scent of fresh basil growing in my garden. Thanks Anna for the scensory experience as provided by Mr. Basil!

  2. As I watch my Basil plants die from the cold weather I’m already thinking about how to improve next years crop. I would love to talk to Paolo about what he does and advice on how to deal with the Texas heat. Thanks Anna for the report, “Mister Basil” is on my list for my next trip!

  3. Wow, you’ve hit a competitive subject with our herb growing italian family. Starting with my grandfather Ignazio from Torretta Sicily…I yearly look for that best time for planting and cultivating generations of my seeds…My brother-in-law has a real knack for it too. I think I should get the blue ribbon though. Don’t tell him..Thanks for the great subject

  4. Jill Ackerman

    The blessed Basil. Thank you for this article. I would like to know some
    of Mr. Basil’s secrets for propagating healthy bushy basil. Mine seem to
    want to grow like trees with long and woody trunks. hmmm.
    Pesto Pesto yum yum!!


Leave a Reply