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Italy

1st Workshop

Our first workshop was held in Nino’s garden in the hills surrounding Bologna on May 11, 2014. Nino Bertozzi has been involved in the PLANT project as project herbalist since It commenced. During the meeting, attended by sixteen AGreenment members and 6 external people, he explained the various plants and herbs used in making liqueurs, including religious associations with these species, many of which date back to Medieval and even Roman times. Festivities and appropriate times of harvesting coinciding with holy days of the Gregorian calendar were also discussed. He shared recipes in the presence and each of the participant, who was involved in making the nocino preparation. The liqueurs treated of included herbal preparations as well as those made with lemon rind (limoncello) and berries and walnuts (nocino).

Comparisons with related traditions in other European countries, especially those which emerged during the Rimini PLANT Meeting, where discussed.

At the end of the workshop the participants were invited to taste the different syrups and liqueurs.

2nd Workshop

Our second workshop, on 3 August 2014, took place at the Botanical Gardens of Abetone. It was attended by 17 AGreenment members and one external participant. Also, five visitors to the forest who were interested in following the workshop proceedings remained with the group for the duration of the workshop.  A forest guide who was a botany student accompanied us through the various micro climates of the forest. Our 2 herbalists and our expert in medicine supported the guide, illustrating medical principles of the plants as well as traditional knowledge and their uses.

The species under study were thus discussed for their cosmetic, medicinal and gastronomical uses and their folklore associations too were often referred to. The plants shown and examined included the saxifrage, primrose and blueberry. We were also taken along the ‘mushroom path’ and explained the various identifying features of edible mushrooms as well as the importance of a very thorough knowledge of mushroom properties and the associated dangers of harvesting. Following inputs about mushrooms and new discoveries we have decided to organize a new workshops on mushrooms and alchemia. Trees discussed for their magical associations included the spruce, willow, beech and birch, and superstitions and legends surrounding these were recounted. The micro climate referring to the peaty ground and their spontaneous herbs were studied closely, being also among the subjects of our upcoming Estonian meeting.

The group showed genuine interest throughout and the level of participation at this hands-on event was high.

After the workshop, which lasted around 3 hours, we shared a lunch amid the exquisite surrounds of the Abetone forest.