Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Saffron of San Gimignano

We took a day trip to San Gimignano with the other A&M group staying at Santa Chiara today.  The group left on a charter bus at 9:00 this morning.  It was about a two hour drive to San Gimignano.  The town is in the province of Siena, Tuscany.  It is famous for its medieval towers.  When the group arrived we were met by a tour guide at the gates of the town.  Our guide informed us that San Gimignano was founded in the 11th century BC by the Etruscans.  The town was a stopping point for pilgrims on their way to Rome.  Another attribute to the improvement of San Gimignano was the trade of agricultural products such as wine and saffron.

Saffron is carefully cultivated and harvested in San Gimignano.  It   In the 13th century it was used to pay the debts of the town.  The saffron is harvested from the stigma of the Saffron Crocus within a time span of two or three weeks.  The saffron must be harvested by hand, and it takes 150,000 flowers to give 1 kg of saffron.  This is why the spice is very expensive.

We experienced some of the unique flavors of San Gimignano during our short time in San Gimignano.  There are many different products that are made with this rare spice.  We stopped by a world famous gelateria after eating lunch in San Gimignano.  There was a saffron flavored gelato that I had to try.  It was an interesting flavor, and reminded me of chai.  The owner of the shop was very friendly, and we even took a picture with him!  After the gelato we walked around and explored some of the local shops.  I found saffron and sunflower scented soap, and I purchased some for gifts for my family members.  It was neat experiencing some of the local wares of San Gimignano.  I have a new appreciation for saffron, and the region of where it is produced! 

- Emily Darling 

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