The L’Aquila Saffron DOP

Saffron

Historians agree that saffron has been grown in the province of L’Aquila since the 13th and 14th Centuries and that this precious spice took a paramount role in the local economy from the beginning. For centuries the ups and downs of L’Aquila’s economy were related directly to the success of this crop. Saffron provided a means of survival at many critical times in the town’s history and the residents nicknamed it the “Vermillion gold.”

International trade in saffron became so important that foreign traders moved to L’Aquila to live, in order to better profit from that business. This led to a thriving economy and also to social, cultural and political relations between the local population and those of Central and Northern Europe.

Because L’Aquila saffron can be propagated only by cloning, its characteristics have remained unaltered through time. In other words, L’Aquila saffron is like a living fossil, whose botanical characteristics and cultivation methods have remained the same over the past 600 years.

Map of l’Aquila saffron

This means that saffron plants grown in L’Aquila are ranked as cultivars or biotypes, based on minute biological attributes that differentiate them from others, and which are caused by the micro-climactic and environmental conditions found only in the territory of L’Aquila.