Francesco Speciale in the thirties
Francesco Speciale in the thirties

In 1924, the first « Officine e Fonderie Speciale » sees the light in Giarre, Catane province, thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit and intuition of its founder, Francesco Speciale who wanted to meet the needs of a rapidly changing food industry and in particular the citrus fruit industry.

In the first years of his innovatory activities, Francesco Speciale is particularly interested in the automation of the citrus fruit labour process. This results in his remarkable contribution to the Sicilian economy.

Thanks to his initiative numerous different types of machines are realised. They are adapted to the different processes in citrus fruit transformation and are manufactured under the “Speciale trademark”. Amongst them feature the “ centrifugal separator” which separates essential oil from water, the “slicer” which cuts fine, regular slivers of cut peel destined for the crystallised or candied fruit industry, the “sieve” which is used for producing pulp for the preparation of jams, jellies and concentrates, the “sfumatrice” machine which extracts essential oil or the “continuous presses” to process pulp, automatic lemon cutters, high pressure hydraulic pumps, washing or brushing machines.

“Pelatrice” Speciale trademark, at the XIII Fiera Campionaria in Padua 1931
“Pelatrice” Speciale trademark, at the XIII Fiera Campionaria in Padua 1931

As early as 1928 Francesco Speciale trademarks an automatic machine for the extraction of essential oil from lemons, oranges and similar fruit. This new model called the “Peeler” revolutionises the citrus industry from the late forties both at a national and international level and has been renewed and improved several times since then. These evolutions are reported in important articles of the time published in Italy and abroad. We recall, in particular, the detailed description of the “Pelatrice Speciale” rasping machine in the text entitled “ Citrus Products” (Publishers, New York, 1949) by Professor Braverman, reputed internationally as one of the most eminent researchers in the citrus fruit sector. Also in the “Olii essenziali” chapter of the Enciclopedia Treccani (Vol.14, p384). There have also been numerous national and foreign distinctions and honours.

“Pelatrice”, mod. DS10
“Pelatrice”, mod. DS10

In the fifties, in reply to the highest demands of the international food and beverage market concerning, on the one hand the quality of juice and essential oils and on the other, the performance of the machines, Speciale starts producing a new line which includes an “automatic pressure machine” for the extraction of citrus juices which has a system of rotating reamers and a system of fixed bulbs. The juice extracting operation is only carried out after the essential oil is extracted with the new and improved version of the “ Pelatrice Speciale” Model DS10.

Francesco Speciale with his staff in 1949
Francesco Speciale with his staff in 1949

Aside from the « Pelatrice » which extracts the essential oil from the peel without damaging the fruit, a new type of juice extractor makes its appearance, this is the RS model. This new assembly of machines with its fully automatic cycle avoids certain disadvantages encountered with extracting methods such as the “ birillatrici” rotating reamer machines, the “ passatrici” and other models used up until this time and which altered the chemical composition of the products. The new Speciale machines are widely appreciated in the sector as we can read in the 1955 report from the Scientific department of the Experimental Centre for the Industry of Preserves and Citrus fruit derivatives in Palermo and also at the occasion of the 1956 “Preserves exhibition” in Parma. At this time, the firm employed a workforce of 25 manual workers, the name “ Speciale” is recognised far beyond the frontiers of the national market, in England, Germany, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Greece, Palestine, Morocco, Tunisia, Australia, Mexico and Brazil.

"In-line" type extractors. Model. SP40
“In-line” type extractors. Model. SP40

From the sixties, after Francesco Speciale’s death, the firm continues and develops thanks to the new initiatives and commitment of his son-in-law, Michele Caltabiano, a mechanical engineer who graduated from the Pisa faculty. Speciale machines continue to advance, increasing performance and improving the extraction line of the “pelatrici” combined with RS extractors. As from the eighties with the new demand for drinkable fresh fruit juice, a new extraction system with “ In-Line” machine types appears.

The advantage of these extractors is that they extract juice and essential oils at the same time, producing high quality juice, which contains an extremely low quantity of oil. Today, this new machine continues to be amongst the most in demand throughout the world, even though the “Traditional Speciale System” (“Pelatrice” essentiale oil extractor mod. DS and Juice Extractor mod. RS) continues to prosper, in particular where a high yield of essential oil is necessary such as for example in the production of bergamot essential oil.

Since 2004, Mr Francesco Speciale’s grandson, Mr Rosario Caltabiano has taken over the management of Speciale thus taking the firm into the third generation. A qualified engineer, Rosario Caltabiano cherishes the values passed on from his grandfather and father : the development of Speciale’s qualty of products and services combined with respect for his fellow man.