Following the scent of the mountains takes us to Castignano, an ancient hamlet often associated with the scent of Pimpinella anisum, commonly known as green anise.
Castignano aniseed has a powerful fragrance and a distinctive flavour, and is more popular than other types of aniseed thanks to its high concentration of anethole.
Its uniqueness is so profoundly tied to its native habitat that it has come to be viewed as an essential feature of Castignano’s cultural and historical identity.
With its clay soil,badlands,and sloping terrain, which ensures exposure to the sun, the conditions are ideal for this plant to thrive.
Pantries in Castignano were always well-stocked with aniseed, used to give flavour to roasted barley or coffee, or kneaded into dough to make delicately scented biscuits and doughnuts, both of which are hallmark products of Castignano cuisine.
Castignano aniseed is used not only in confectionery, however: it is also the essential ingredient in the famous Anisetta Meletti, a liqueur made in nearby Ascoli Piceno which owes its elegant bouquet to this particular variety of aniseed.
Global market growth and the rise of competing Asian and Middle-Eastern economies, coupled with the complexity of cultivation methods, has led to a decline in the manufacture of this traditional product. Nonetheless, extinction has been averted thanks to the work of a handful of producers and the implementation of policies and initiatives geared to rediscovering Castignano aniseed, which include Anis – Festival dell’Anice Verde.
Castignano aniseed biscuits
170g all-purpose flour; 90g sugar; 55g dry white wine; 40g extra virgin olive oil; 1 tsp of aniseed; 8g of baking powder for cakes; a bowl of sugar
Sift the flour onto the work surface and make a well in the centre; add the sugar, wine, oil, yeast, and aniseeds. Knead the dough until mixture is smooth. Let the dough stand for half an hour, covering with a cloth. Take some of the dough and roll out thin strips (up to 1 cm).Cut the pieces long enough to wrap around a finger and form a small ring. Dredge the biscuits in sugar, arrange on a tray covered in baking paper. Bake at 180 °C for about 15 minutes.
Contrada Filette, 9; 0736821606
La Casa degli Ulivi
Hosteria del Pelo – rural catering and tasting centre
Contrada Sant’Angelo 1; Frazione Ripaberarda; 339 7845613
What to see
Museo Sistino di arte sacra, Piazza San Pietro
Christmas – Easter – Summer Scheduled opening
Entrance fee €1.00
What to buy
Sergio Corradetti – Aniseed
Piazzale Vittorio Emanuele 5; 3489827964; email@example.com
Simonetti Silvia – Pottery
Piazza Umberto I, 6; 347 0866798