Known as the red heart of Montalcino, crimson saffron (orzafferano in Italian) and has been cultivated in the Val d’Orcia since the Middle Ages. There are records of saffron from Clemente Santi of Montalcino being awarded the Agricultural Exhibition prize as far back as 1857.
This red gold, as once called, is cultivated from the crocus plant. The labor-intensive process involves handpicking the stigmas from each flower. The stigmas are then spread on trays and dried. You need 120,000 to 150,000 flowers to make 1 kilogram of saffron!
On the same day that the stigma is harvested, they select only the most intensely colored part of the stigma, a process taught to them by their grandparents. This ensures the highest quality product.