Color My Winter Blood Orange

February 10, 2014 / Food & Wine

Arancia Rossa di Sicilia | ©Tom Palladio ImagesI’ve been checking daily at my corner supermarket, running around town knocking on fruit shop doors, and visiting the twice-a-week, open-air market in my fair city of Vicenza in search of only one thing: an orange, but not just any orange.

Arancia Rossa di Sicilia | ©Tom Palladio ImagesI’m in pursuit of one of Italy’s great winter blessings: l’Arancia Rossa di Sicilia, or the Blood Orange of Sicily, the most colorful of oranges that I just can’t wait to get my hands on and mouth around.

Arancia Rossa di Sicilia | ©Tom Palladio ImagesRepeatedly, I’ve been told by local produce experts, “They’re late!” But, finally, my wait is over as the new season of the orange-of-a-different-color has finally arrived up north.

Arancia Rossa di Sicilia | ©Tom Palladio ImagesThe revered l’Arancia Rossa di Sicilia, with its deep red flesh and a rind that has a bright blush, comes in three varieties: Moro, Sanguinello and Tarocco. Take your pick, they’re all juicy and delicious and come with the European Union’s stamp of approval: Indicazionze Geografica Protetta  (Protected Geographical Indication).

Arancia Rossa di Sicilia | ©Tom Palladio ImagesBlood oranges of varying types are also grown in Spain, Texas, California, China and Australia, but the leader of the pack comes from the rich earth found on the eastern side of the island of Sicily in the provinces of Catania, Enna, Ragusa and Siracusa.

Arancia Rossa di Sicilia | ©Tom Palladio ImagesThe blood orange get’s its deep red pigment from anthocyanin, a great antioxidant. It’s loaded with vitamin C along with calcium, folate and thiamine. And, one medium size blood orange packs 28% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber.

Arancia Rossa di Sicilia | ©Tom Palladio ImagesBut, the best part of the blood orange, the reason why it stands head and shoulders above the crowd, is its unique taste, a distinct raspberry-like flavor along with the usual citrus notes.

Arancia Rossa di Sicilia | ©Tom Palladio ImagesFor the next couple of months I’ll squeeze her to death every morning and savor each and every drop. And, throughout the day, I’ll peel away her skin for a tasty, juicy, healthy snack.

Arancia Rossa di Sicilia | ©Tom Palladio ImagesFor me, nothing says wintertime around the Bel Paese better than l’Arancia Rossa di Sicilia.


by Tom Weber

Tom is a veteran print-broadcast journalist who resides in the Colli Euganei (Euganean Hills) in the province of Padova in the Veneto region of northestern Italy. He hosts the eclectic travel/foodie/photography blog The Palladian, is a regular contributor to Los Angeles-based, and is a member of the International Travel Writers Alliance. Feel free to follow Tom as he “meanders along the cobblestone to somewhere.”

25 Responses to “Color My Winter Blood Orange”

  1. I am not receiving my daily notes….have no other way of contacting you…please help! I start my day with Italian Notebook…..

    • Laraine — Well, you found today’s note, and I’m glad you did. I believe there were some computer problems that past few days that may have caused a delivery hiccup. Drop a note to “the chief cook and bottle washer” of Italian Notebook,” GB, to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

    • GB

      Hi Laraine, so sorry about this! Tom’s right, we had a little tech hiccup last week, no Note went out on Friday. We’re just recovering now, so Tom’s great note today is going out as I type this, a bit later than usual. Sorry once again, but I gotta say that I’m happy to hear you start your day with ItalianNotebook!

  2. My wife and I had a glass of fresh squeezed blood orange juice when visiting the Isle of Capri several winters ago and still talk about it to this day. The single best beverage I have ever tasted in my life.

    • Joe — I just had a glass of freshly squeezed Moro blood orange juice before I sat down behind the computer. Tell you what, I’ll have another one in honor of you and your wife. You’re right, it’s the best thing in the morning. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Sigrid D.

    Ah, delicious memories….. By chance I found some blood oranges locally at the supermarket, apparently grown in the USA. I wanted to take a picture of the juicy fleshy fruit but could not resist…..eating it before I could juice or shoot it. Not to be compared with the spremute of past winters in warm Italian bars of the Veneto.

  4. The first frozen orange juice that I know of in Italy was made with the Sicilian Tarocchi. In the early 60’s we would down litres of this wonderful juice every day. But, alas, once it became popular they pressed with a little too much enthusiasm and one had juice of the entire orange, including the rind. But the tarocco, moro and sanguinello were always short-live in the family fruit bowl. Unfortunately the blood oranges from California cannot compare.

    • David — Having lived in California for quite a while, I enjoyed the blood oranges from a nearby orchard. Better than none at all. Now that I’m back in the Bel Paese, I’ll enjoy them several times a day, sans the peel, until the season is over.

  5. Patricia Glee Smith

    I was just in Vicenza for a few days to attend the opening of a new exhibition of antique maps of Rome at the Palladio Museum. No blood oranges, but wonderful food, for example at IL Pestello! I love Vicenza, even in the rain.

    • Patricia — You must have missed their arrival at the produce shops and supermarkets around town. Al Pestello is a cozy little place, isn’t it?

  6. Angela Finch

    Can you get them in England, in the Midlands?
    Excellent note by the way.

    • Angela — You’ll have to ask your local grocers and fruit markets. I’m sure they’re exported to up there. Let me know if find them in your neck of the woods.

    • Michael — Apples are good, especially those in the Trentino around Val di Non. I’ll be on the lookout for those Pink Lady’s when they come to market. Now, about blood oranges…

  7. John Cowley

    Great story, great fruit drink, always perfect for breakfast with cornetto integrale and café in the local. Thanks for sharing!


Leave a Reply