To pick a kilogram of saffron you need 150 thousand flowers. In medieval times it was used instead of gold and today it is used in the kitchens of the greatest chefs, but in Montalcino it is the main ingredient in the recipe for tripe
The name comes from Persia, Zaafran , and in fact it comes from Asia and the southern coast of the Mediterranean, even though, for many centuries it has also been cultivated in Marche, Abruzzi, Sardinia, Umbria, Toscana and Basilicata.
It is the most valuable of spices.
Around this flower there is a legend: Homer writes that saffron was a comfortable bed for Zeus, the old Romans used the flowers to cover the roads before the passage of prices and emperors.
It was also used for ministers’ headdresses for ceremonies, and for dyeing their robes.
For this reason too, apart from the quotations by Pliny and Ovid we are sure that the Romans knew of saffron, but its cultivation then was lost and began again in L’Aquila thanks to the Dominican Padre Santucci who imported it secretly from Spain.
Saffron is a crocus about 5 cm long from which generally three violet flowers with red stigmas. It loves dry climates and a sandy soil such as those in the Val d’Orcia dove where is has been grown since time immemorial.
The type that is most prestigious and desired by those who love good cuisine is the Crocus sativus which is sterile and reproduces only thanks to cloning.
It was selected in Crete by impassioned cultivators who were trying to better the production of stigmas.