While its hard to imagine otherwise, Italians have not always embraced the tomato as part of their national cuisine. In a late summer love letter to the tomato the New York Post describes the history of the tomato in Italy as told by David Gentilcore in the book Pomodoro!
Here the Post details the turning point when the tomato went from a strange and horrible killer to a kitchen staple:
While Italian cuisine we think of today would be impossible to imagine without its tomatoes, the historical process of turning the maligned vegetable into a favored edible was slow. Gentilcore discovers that attitudes toward the tomato finally began to change by the mid-17th century when medical books were allowing that the acidity of the tomato could actually help digestion, and recipes from the New World for chopped tomatoes with fresh chiles were making their way to Italy. Italian food writers started paying more attention to flavors and using tomatoes in their cooking.