Generally speaking, basil (Ocimum basilicum- native to tropical Asia), and naturally, the basil produced in the Genoa area (in Ligurian dialect "baxeicou" or "baxaicò"), was originally brought to various areas of the Mediterranean (including Liguria) by the ancient Romans. The Romans believed that basil had medicinal properties, and more particularly, that it was an aphrodisiac, as Gaius Plinius Secondus, better known as Pliny the Elder, states in his "Naturalis historia." Later it became a traditional crop and was eventually used, not only medicinally, but also in the local cuisine. In Liguria, in particular, the original area of production was restricted to a small nucleus in the area of Genoa and more precisely, the Prà neighbourhood, where this plant has been grown for millennia. In fact, in this area basil has been renowned for its quality since ancient times. Over time, the growing area expanded and covered the entire coastal strip of the Ligurian region. The market conditions eventually became favourable for basil and its use in numerous recipes, such as the highly celebrated “Pesto alla genovese.” On June 4, 2006, the “Basil Park of Pra’” was officially inaugurated at the Villa Lomellini-Doria-Podestà, which was restored by the provincial government of Genoa and used by the centre for basil cultivation. The villa is next to large and modern greenhouses adjacent to the highway tollbooth of Voltri.
The Basilico genovese Dop is a particularly important ingredient for the preparation of the classic “Pesto alla genovese” and a particularly useful condiment in traditional Ligurian cooking. In fact, it is adapted to the preparation of a number of dry dishes, and special canapés and breads. It is usually added to salads, pizzas, sandwiches, omelets and the local bread salad, panzanella.
The product can be recognized by its special Consortium logo, which is displayed on every package.