San Gimignano’s red gold

As the countryside prepares to roll out of the fall and head into the winter, saffron blooms in Tuscany – the promise of a precious touch used in applications as diverse as cooking and art, medicine and fabric dying.

Over the centuries, San Gimignano established its role as the center for the cultivation of this spice, with records dating as far back as the 13th century, when merchants started an intense trade of this “red gold”. Tall towers in the city center bore testimony to a flourishing business, as they were built and raised higher to reflect the financial success of their owners, with no less than 72 standing at one point. San Gimignano became a crucial hub for trading, but lost importance the following century.

In this context, we are happy to showcase the photographic project by Francesca Pagliai, which promotes the culinary and cultural value of saffron also through an itinerary of tastings, including excellent creations by some of Tuscany’s top chefs.

San Gimignano, Siena

Tavernelle Val di Pesa
Chef: Cecilia Dei

Cerreto Guidi
Chef: Stefano Pinciaroli

San Gimignano
Chef: Alberto Sparacino

Castellina in Chianti
Chef: Guido Haverkock

© Francesca Pagliai Fotografa

San Gimignano’s red gold

San Gimignano


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