Pozzolengo led the way, with a quality production that’s already been appreciated for some years now. And now also Desenzano has its saffron: a production limited in quantity and strictly artisanal launched by Raffaella Visconti, a well known Lake Garda publisher and journalist well known as founder and director of Dipende magazine, which in recent years has decided to return to the original love for the land starting a definitely unique agricultural activity.
“In 2013 Dipende has turned twenty, and on this occasion I decided to move it on the Internet transforming the print edition from monthly to quarterly according to seasons – says Raffaella -. The goal was to take a year to develop new ideas. During this time I noticed some fields in Desenzano, owned by some friends, who agreed to let me experience some cultivation. I made several attempts, then I had the idea to try with saffron: basically if it had given such brilliant results in Pozzolengo, why could it not work even in Desenzano? ”
Starting from an accurate study of the soil, Raffaella began looking not only at the Garda experience but also at those of two other areas of Italy as Abruzzo and Sardinia where saffron cultivation has a long tradition.
“I started planting bulbs of different origin two years ago: the results have been so satisfactory that I have decided to extend the plantation for almost three thousand meters. Last year, from mid-October to mid-November, I made my first harvest, all strictly by hand: a beautiful process but also delicate and demanding, because the beautiful saffron flowers must be picked only in the early morning, before they open in order to safeguard and not to pollute the stigmas, which must be removed and dried in a day “.
At the end of 2016, after having passed the exam to become a regional nurserywoman, Raffaella has launched its line “Zafferano di Desenzano”, which includes both the stigmas in a pack of a gram, the sachets of 0.10, as well as biscuits made with the pastry chef Orlando Pasquali from Pozzolengo.
“People liked all the products very much, because the quality of the handmade product is completely different from the normal saffron, both for the colour as well for aroma and taste. For the future we are planning to use for old flours from Castellaro for the biscuits production to ensure a real local product. But I’m also collaborating with some local farms to produce a cheese with saffron. ”
On the leased land, which is already in conversion to organic farming, Raffaella has extended the cultivation even to the true lavender, edible and also destined for essential oil, and is already experimenting with Pasquali for the production of lavender biscuits.
“I’m also doing some experiments with wild herbs based on the concept of synergistic gardening, according to which the soil should not be worked on as we try to approach with special intercropping plants that help each other by creating an incredible and real varies ecosystem. All without fertilizers, without treatment and without weeding. I dusted off my degree in architecture by creating a sort of spiral into the ground surrounded by stones with at the center all the mother plants of various biological types: rosemary sage, various types of mint, basil. I’m also trying the outdoor reproduction of spontaneous varieties such as butcher’s broom, of which you can eat the sprouts. It ‘a wonderful experience: I really think it is necessary for all of us wonder where we are going and rediscover hence the importance of the relationship with the land. ”
The Saffron line of Desenzano is currently available for purchase in three stores, all of course in Desenzano: enoteca letteraria Sfusi Divini in via Castello, Ruffoni in piazza Malvezzi and caffetteria Dolce Caffè in via Merici.