While wandering around Arezzo during our free time, my friends and I came upon a shop that stopped us in our tracks. The shop was dedicated entirely to lavender! We smelled the shop before we saw it, and it was so unique. There were essential oils, pumice stones, liquor, fragrance sprays, and many other items that were made from lavender. The entire store was light purple, and was one of the most charming places we have seen thus far.
Lavender’s history goes back to biblical times. It was named in the Bible as “spikenard.” Its name comes from the Latin word meaning “to wash.” Romans used lavender to scent their clothes, baths, beds, and even their hair. Today, lavender is cultivated around the world, and has various uses. Lavender is an herbaceous perennial, and the most common cultivation is English Lavender. The lavender isn’t from England (it is native to the Mediterranean), but it grows very well in England. In class, we learned of so many other plants that have thriving industries in countries that are not their native home. For example, the kiwi is native to China, but has been mainly developed in New Zealand.
It was interesting to see this entire shop made of lavender because we had never seen anything like this before. It is easy to see how this kind of shop would be more common in Italian culture than in American culture. What I’ve learned from being in Italy so far is that Italians love the land and use it well. With an ancient history of fertile lands, this lavender shop is a testament to a culture of artful agricultural stewardship.