Italians gather orange blossoms to obtain essential oils and extracts which are later used in perfumes production. In addition to traditional sweet orange trees, Italian gardeners also cultivate bitter orange trees. The essential oil obtained from its blossom is called neroli oil. It is slightly sharper comparing with the orange blossom, and also warm, sweet and floral.
The name “neroli” dates back to the 17th century, when the princess of Nerola Anna Marie Orsini set the fashion for the bitter orange essence applying it on her gloves and scenting her bath.
The harvest of orange blooms takes place in late April through early May. Blooming oranges can be observed at a Hesperidarium Garden of Citrus in Castellare di Pescia that boasts over 200 varieties of ornamental citrus fruits, including the varieties that date back to the sixteenth-century and were cultivated for the Medici family. Villa Medicea di Castello, located in Florence, also has the garden with Medici citrus collection.