Noce di Sorrento (Walnut of Sorrento)
There is evidence that the walnut has been present in Campania since at least the first century AD. In Herculaneum, the charred remains of very similar shaped nuts to those of today have been found in the Casa D'Argo, while at Pompeii, paintings portraying walnuts have come to light in the Misteri Villa. The soil and climate in Campania are particularly favourable to the cultivation of this crop and have enabled it to spread over most of the plains and hills. It is not a coincidence that the most cultivated and valued Italian variety of walnut originated in Campania: it is the Sorrento cultivar, native to the Sorrento Peninsula where it has found a habitat with ideal environmental characteristics for the robust and harmonious development of the tree.
It has gradually spread from here to the classic fruit-farming areas of all the provinces of Campania (the majority with the suitable volcanic soil in the province of Naples), giving rise to a wide range of ecotypes, all known as the Sorrento Walnut, although there are two that are the most widely cultivated and marketed. There are two main types of Sorrento walnut which differ in shape: one has an elongated, regular and slightly pointed shell (the "pointed beard") at the top and rounded off at the base whilst the other is smaller and more rounded. The cultivation techniques, inspired by traditional growing methods, and the organoleptic character are the same for both types. In both cases the shell is light-coloured, not very wrinkled and thin enough to be broken with light pressure. The kernel - i.e. the edible part of the walnut - is cream coloured, not very oily, (though it can be preserved well for a certain period), substantial, soft and crunchy, with an extremely pleasant flavour and an unusual aroma and aftertaste, both when eaten fresh and after a period of preservation. The kernel also boasts a peculiar quality: unlike other types of walnut, it can be easily extracted whole, which makes it popular with the confectionery industry.