Pimpinella garden
The visit to the school of wild botanics and herbalism
in Emilia-Romagna, Italy.
We were lucky to visit Giardino di Pimpinella, such a beautiful and extraordinary place in the beginning of June. It is absolutely hidden from tourists and passers by, which only makes it a more incredible space.

Laura Dell'Aquila is a famous Italian herbalist and she founded at Pimpinella Garden the school of wild botanics and erboristerie. She offers many special workshops and courses about plants and their uses for different everyday purposes.
Recently, I have been lucky to find mysterious and magical corners not far from our home (see here for the photos of a walk around Florence). Pimpinella Garden is situated in the Apennines, not far from Bologna and we arrived there from Prato in a little more than 1 hour of driving.

Here we have experienced a feeling of a different and special dimension. The place is full of kindness and tranquility. Being there with Laura and learning from her gifts you a more elevated sense of gratitude to the earth and the nature around you. The fact that plants can be used as a medicine, for cosmetics and food, opens our mind and shows us that we are living in a world full of abundance. Nature gives us infinite amount of accessible resources but we forgot about them and we lost the knowledge on how to use them.

Our stay at Pimpinella has been only 24 hours long, but it completely renewed us and turned out to be very rich in knowledge and new experience.

The owner of the garden and the school Laura has been living in this place for many years, she is a biologist by education and has taken many other courses to work with plants. Here she raised her three children and now hosts guests and groups to teach wild herbs and how to prepare them for medicines, creams, perfumes, essential oils etc. During our stay there was also a group from the very north of Italy, Bolzano. They make part of a 4 year course in Ayurveda school and at their second year they devote some time to studying the medicinal properties and benefits of mediterranean plants. This was the reason of their 4 days stay at Pimpinella, to learn with Laura more about plants of their region, as according to Ayurveda Indian plants are perfect but one should always know what grows around his own house.

I was lucky enough to attend a part of their course and it was incredible! Laura began her activity with the words "We depend on plants, although lately we are more often behaving like parasites. But we, humans, we are the ones who depend on them. "

Then, using the example of sage, Laura told about its many uses in the household. According to one of the hypothesis, when science was not so technologically advanced, people determined the properties of plants by their similarity to humans (The work of "Phytognomics" by Giovanni Battista della Porta just speaks of such similarities). So the sage leaf has a kind of bumps that are very similar to taste buds of our tongue. This is from where came the acknowledgement that sage is good for our mouth and respiratory tract, for our gums. It may seem completely banal, but as banal as it gets Laura suggested us to try and use the sage leaf in the absence of toothpaste and a toothbrush, as simply by rubbing your teeth with it you will get an amazing and a very effective result. We tried it and it does work just as well.

The ancient school of medicine at Salerno, in southern Italy, glorified sage in its sayings. In their writings one could read the following words: "How can a man die if there is sage in his garden!" or "Blessed is he who uses sage, for he will never get sick."

Then Laura talked to us about the properties of dandelions, about the plantain, confirming my story about how in Russia we are always taught to apply it to wounds on our knees since childhood. Plantain can even stop nosebleeds, as it has the ability to stimulate blood clotting and disinfects cuts very well.

In addition to the breadth and depth of Laura's knowledge, it is striking that the place in which you find yourself seems to be just a parallel world. There were blooming flowers, beautiful and fragrant roses all around and the air was saturated with their incredible smell. At the entrance everyone is greeted by a magical tree house, it was built for Laura's children and the tree holding it died already but the house is still there kept to host special guests and friends. There are tibetan flags in front of the house, underlining the peace and openness of Pimpinella garden. It gives a non verbal message that this place accepts all the cultures and beliefs, embracing all those who bring respect and care for nature.

As it turned out later, Laura's house hosts quite a rare piece, a real Tibetan mandala, created by monks from colorful sand. Such a unique item that can hardly be found at anyone else's place. Laura answered to most of our questions that she "serves this place". It turns out that when she found this house in her youth and saw it for the first time, she put a whole year calling its owner once a week, persuading him to sell it. After such pressure, he gave up and Laura finally moved in.

One of the most unforgettable impressions for us during the stay at Pimpinella was the food - we ate altogether at a large common table in front of the house. All meals included wild herbs and even flowers, all meals are vegetarian or can be vegan upon request. I loved the rice and nettle au gratin with a crispy sesame crust on top. And I have tried as well one of the most magical desserts in my whole life - a cup with fresh ricotta cheese mixed with homemade strawberry jelly, almonds and sprinkled with caramelized rose petals on top. It was divine! Most of the ingredients come from the kitchengarden at Pimpinella or from the surroundings. Cheese, jam and many other healthy treats are provided by Laura's neighbors. She has many friends and supporters and we saw other ladies coming every day to help with the cooking.

Salad with cabbage, carrots and edible camomile flowers.
Dessert with fresh ricotta cheese and rose petals from the garden.
Welcoming dinner starters and grilled bread.
The Ayurveda group kindly invited us to join them for a yoga class early in the morning at 7.15. Right on the front lawn, in the warm sunshine, we all excercised with birds singing around us for about an hour before starting breakfast. I rarely devote time to exercise, so the opportunity to try it in a company with other people was very stimulating. Doing yoga in the fresh air in the morning, is just superb!
How to visit Pimpinella Garden
Would you like to visit such an unusual place? Laura offers courses in English too.

Here you may find a list of all her proposals. To know more, do not hesitate to contact her at info@pimpinella.it

I definitely want to go back there and learn more about Mediterranean plants.

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