Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Castiglione Fiorentino, Italy

Considered a staple of Italian cuisine, rosemary is one of the most commonly used herbs in the Mediterranean.  One of my favorite dishes that Santa Chiara cooked for us was roasted potatoes and flank steak seasoned with rosemary.  Being a popular herb in Italy, rosemary can be found in nearly every garden and also grows naturally in the countryside.  The plant prefers a lot of sun and well-drained soil which is great for the Italian countryside.  On our first day in Castiglion Fiorentino, our professor took us on a walk around the city to show us some of the various plants and flowers that are growing around here.  There is a huge rosemary bush right next to the study center, as can be seen in the picture.  As we walked past I let my hand run over the bush and it was so aromatic I smelled like rosemary for the rest of the walk.  Since then I have seen rosemary all over Italy including the Pitti Palace, various gardens in Rome, and along the paths in Cinque Terre.  For personal use, families also typically have potted rosemary that is kept outdoors during the summer and if it gets too cold in the winter they will move it closer to the house or indoors.

Rosemary is a woody, perennial herb and is native to the Mediterranean region.  It actually is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae.  The flowers of the plant are typically light blue, but can also be lilac or a lighter pink.  The flowering typically happens during late spring to early summer.  While they are not the prettiest of flowers, it is ok because rosemary tastes amazing.  Being a principal of the culinary world, it is no surprise that people have discovered that rosemary has medicinal properties too because of the high antioxidant properties.  In old Italian texts it was also used as a digestive aid in tea and was also used to treat rheumatism, sores, eczema, and bruises.  In my house, my mom always uses rosemary to season our turkey on thanksgiving, and I know that from now on whenever I see rosemary it will remind me of this amazing experience in Italy.

Never wanting to leave Italy,

Hannah Dressen

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