San Gavino Monreale's Saffron
A real feather in the cap
San Gavino Monreale is a town bathed by the Rio Pardu that lies in the Medio Campidano's heart, at the foot of the Monreale's castle . The country's urban structure reflects the typical centers in agricultural culture, in which the buildings are very large, with large courtyards and spacious arched entrances.
The old town still retains homes built in ladiri, mud and straw briks. From the beginning the country's economy has always been based on agricultural activity, especially the citrus fruits cultivation, olives, and in particular that of saffron, due to the place's particular climatic and biological conditions which it is, therefore, the largest national producer. To the San Gavino's Red gold is also dedicated a celebration during November.
The country is also famous for being the Renato Capparoni's birthplace , a famous Italian soccer player, went down in history for being the first Italian goalkeeper to have saved a penalty kick by Diego Armando Maradona.
Among the various companies in the area, right on the road that connects San Gavino with Sanluri the next route stop , is the S'Argidda Agricultural Company.
Specialized in the fodder and arable land production, the company also produces fruit, vegetables and aromatic essences, including the precious saffron, which is a real feather in the cap of this company, also recognized by the Slow Food's pincipals brand .
San Gavino Monreale's Saffron, cultivated by the S'Argidda Company, is produced organically and, after harvesting, is left in its natural state in stigmas or pistils, the thin red wires that are located within the same flower .This is the only saffron's purity proof and it is for this reason that there are enough small doses compared to the powder saffron quantities needed in the kitchen , just think that a gram of pure saffron is enough to flavor 5 pounds of rice. The company is located in San Gavino Monreale on the SS 197 to km 17.500 in the direction Sanluri.
From San Gavino Monreale we move towards Sanluri.
Due to its location, between Campidano and Marmilla, this town has always played a strategic role in communications and since 1300 was a fortified town to defend the Giudicato of Arborea. The earliest settlements date back to the Nuragic, but the present town developed in the Middle Ages within the walls, and then expand in the typical fan shape from the walls themselves to the most important roads outside.
In town worth visiting the Eleanor's castle , built between the thirteenth and early fourteenth century., The only medieval castle fit for use in Sardinia and in which there is the Risorgimental Duca d'Aosta's Museum, the fourteenth century's Our Lady of Grace's Parish Church and other churches such as St. Peter, St. Martin and St. Lawrence.
Among the various culinary delights, has a honored place the famous bread civraxiu. Typical of the Middle Campidano area, it is produced with durum wheat flour throug a natural leavening process, which gives it a very durable softnessand for this it is also called pan'a CIRA, which means bread of the week. Its origins can be found in a legend, according to which about 2,200 years ago a Roman soldier named Ciro wounded in the leg, was treated in Sanluri by a widow and her son named Vargiu. To reciprocate the courtesy, Ciro, who could make bread, built them an oven in mud and stones and with the Sanluri's semolina durum wheat he prepared a big scented bread named civraxiu as a friendship demonstration which had sprung up between Ciro and Vargiu..
The Civraxiu bread can be found in every bakeries as Caboni and Pillosu, in via Carlofelice 285, or by Enosanluri Vinoteca Bakery, in via Muraglia 77.
The route continues towards Iglesias, a town located at the Mount Marganai's foot, famous for its mines, which are also recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. In town you can visit the Mining's Museum and Mining Machinery.
The city is also famous of its many churches: the thirteenth century's St. Clare's Cathedral, The Our Lady of Grace's Church and St. Francis with the adjoining convent, which dates back to the sixteenth , are just some examples of the the local ecclesiastical architecture.
In the area surrounding the town, marked by secluded valleys and rich in caves and mountains sloping down to the sea, very popular vines are grown , as the Isola dei nuraghi and Carignano variety.
From an iglesias wine-growers' ancient tradition was born the Aru agricultural company, which, by the end of the '800 till today, pursues in the vine cultivation , adapting tradition to new evolving techniques, to obtain great value grapes to be transformed in wines of ancient memory, thanks to the working process in the field and in the cellar, taking care of the smallest details all the production details , from grape selection to a certain temperature, softly squeezed until the controlled fermentation. One of the best winery's wines is the Sigerro, a red wine with Protected Geographical Indication, produced with Merlot and Carignano, with a garnet red color and scent persistent and intense.