The hills of Castiglione Cosentino concealed an unspoken treasure, hidden among the family lands that had not been used for some time. Today those lands have regained their splendor and have become the operational base of the farm created thanks to the audacity and stubbornness of two sisters, Benedetta and Maria Concetta Linardi. Born “almost for fun” but with “the ambition to give life again to the family’s land”, “Zafferano del Re” Company has allowed the production of the highest red gold quality of Calabria which has become a real agri-food treasure.

The treasure land to cultivate and enhance

The king the company brand refers to is the famous Alarico, linked to the history of the city of Cosenza, the provincial capital only fifteen minutes by car from the company land. Starting from that legend, the two entrepreneur sisters wanted to highlight that «the real treasure of our territory is in the agricultural tradition of this place» explains Benedetta Linardi. So, her passion in farming led them to preserve nature and biodiversity by focusing, after some cultivation experiments, on saffron which is produced with natural methods. They’re farmers and artisans at the same time because their product is the result of a work process entirely carried out by hand.

The ancient origins of saffron in Calabria

A number of historical publications trace the cultivation of this precious spice back to the Greco-Roman age. An agricultural tradition so much rooted in time, that the suffron production has reached important quantities in the era of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, especially in the territory of the Province of Cosenza, which was one of the largest producers and exporters in the world. Evident traces of its the ancient origins in the area of Cosenza can be found in the book “Historical and geographical description of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies” dating back to 1789, which states: “Calabria and Abruzzo even more once used to cultivate large quantities of saffron”. The text “New Guide for Travelers in Italy and in the main parts of Europe” by Luigi Zucoli dating back 1844 mentions the saffron among the agricultural productions of Cosenza. However, a further historical trace of this important productive action can be read between the lines of the text “Italy under Victor Emmanuel. A personal narrative” by Carlo Arrivabene written in 1862. In a paragraph dedicated to the beauties of Southern Italy, the author verbatim writes : “There is a proverb that highlights the three rarities of Southern Italy: Sicilian wines, saffron from Cosenza, women from Bagnara”.

Saffron and cooking

Analyzed by the University of Calabria and classified in commercial terms as Type 1, the Saffron of the King succeeded in entering the kitchens of some catering professionals due to its high quality. «This allows us to have a lot of satisfaction thanks to the quality we are able to gain – explains Maria Concetta Linardi . Relating to the chefs and having positive feedback has prompted us to increase our production». Tradition and historicity today have become precious elements to «stay rather than leave» and help «the land to shine as it deserves».