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The golden color of the Crete: saffron and its flowers

Autumn is really the best period to come and visit the violet fields, coloring the Crete around Siena, a marvelous natural show to enjoy, especially at the beginning of the morning, when people go to harvest the closed flowers, to spare the pistils and their fragrance.

In autumn vineyards stands next to the light blue violet flower petals that is collected in the morning when it is still closed and therefore has lost its fragrance in the air; the three strands or stigmas of each plant are then dried with wood fire holm to no more than 40 ° C and then packaged: 120-140 crocuses is obtained from only one gram of saffron.

The cultivation of saffron in this area started in Middle Age: San Gimignano was able to pay all the war debts with its saffron fields. "L'oro di San Gimignano" financed the construction of all the towers that designed the town skyline even today, a symbol of the ancient power of the city.

The "crocus sativus" was a exchange ware, even in some diplomatic affairs: the fine backroom pistils were offered to the representatives of the Vatican to corrupt them. Saffron (asfar from Persian, Arabic became sahafaran = yellow) was imported for the first time in Tuscany originally from central Anatolia.

The cultivation was abandoned for several centuries, but in recent times people started to grow saffron again. A bet won thanks to the special ground of San Gimignano very suitable for cultivation for its low-acidity and the high yield per square meter. The San Gimignano saffron is not yet an IGP product, even if the growing companies are working to obtain this certification.

Cooking tips

Saffron is an add on in some of the most famous dishes of the Val d’Elsa tradition: pici, mushrooms, rabbit, tripe.

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