Tuesday, 1 March 2011


The citrus oils. Bracciano is a lovely italian town just to the north of Rome. Its nice to enjoy a coffee in the square under the impressive castle before setting off to the lakeside. Here lived the Duke Flavio Orsini Duke of Bracciano and Prince of Nerola and his wife, Princess Anna Maria de la Tremoille de Noirmoutier. It is Anna Maria who are credited with introducing the beautiful oil of Neroli to european courts.

The first mention of citrus essential oils occurred in Italy in the sixteenth century. It was 1688 before bergamot essential oil found its way to the inventory of a German Pharmacy.  Bergamot and Neroli are key ingredients in Eau de Cologne which was worn as a healthy lotion.

Yes its fascinating. How dark were the dark ages? Italy was wracked by warfare from the fall of rome to the renaissance but farming went on and pockets of learning remained preserved. Many of the combatants were rival christians who left monastries alone. Medicine then made considerable use of plant oils and plants. Mostly for digestion and shipboard diseases. One of the most notable maestri of the Siennese School of Medicine was Pietro Ispano (Pope John XXI). Ispano was an illustrious philosopher, personal doctor to Emperor Frederick II, and in 1276 became Pope John XXI.

As to Florence which rose to eclipe Sienna, a leading family were the Medici. Can you see whats coming? yes the Medici began as pharmacists and their heraldic shield commemorates this as it consists of circles to depict the pills of dried plant matter they supplied. Dont mess with the pharmacists!


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