Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Rice has Asian origins and was imported into Europe by the Moors and Saracens, making its appearance in Italy in the 13th century, especially in the southern area. It will then find fertile ground in the Po Valley and in the Vercelli area. The combination of rice and saffron probably originated from rice with saffron, a dish already known in the Middle Ages. But when does it appear in Italy? Probably in 1700, the chef Antonio Nebbia talks about it in his book Il Cuoco maceratese, dated 1779.

Legend has it that saffron (a spice as precious as gold and with a thousand properties) was used in 1754 to prepare a yellow risotto intended for a wedding dinner. According to a manuscript in the Trivulziana library of the Castello Sforzesco in Milan, at that time Mastro Valerio di Fiandra was working on the decoration of the stained glass windows of the Milan Cathedral and was helped by an assistant surnamed Zafferano, because he had the habit of making the colors brighter by adding Spice. One day the master, jokingly, told him that with his obsession he would also include saffron in food. And so, on the wedding day of the daughter of Valerio di Fiandra, Zafferano convinced the cook to incorporate the spice into the risotto he was preparing. The dish was presented at the banquet and the yellow risotto was a success, mainly due to its unusual color and flavour.

Zafferano dell’Aquila D.O.P

ur gourmet version involves the use of o Zafferano dell’Aquila D.O.P. of the Navelli area. It is said that in Spain, in the 12th century, there was an encounter between the precious flower and the Dominican monk Santucci, originally from Navelli. He was a member of the Holy Inquisition and was a great lover of agriculture.

The monk secretly brought three bulbs to Navelli in the hope that they could bear good fruit here. To realize the project he made corrections to Spanish cultivation practices trying to adapt them to the climate and soil of the area, developing for the first time the annual cycle cultivation. Saffron found an ideal habitat in the Navelli Plain and a product was born that was far superior to that grown elsewhere. The diffusion and success of Navelli saffron go hand in hand with the history of the city of L’Aquila. In the thirteenth century. L’Aquila had just arisen and immediately became famous for the precious saffron, which, from the area of the Navelli plateau, extended to the whole surrounding area, giving life to an impressive trade with the cities of Milan and Venice and with some cities such as Frankfurt, Marseille, Vienna, Nuremberg and Augsburg.

Today the cultivation of saffron is carried out by selected farmers and it is estimated that the average annual production for the entire Navelli plain is around 40 kg.