BETWEEN MAGIC AND SCIENCE
Mid-16th century Turin already boasted a certain prominence in the study of alchemy. It was a meeting place where magic and scientific research came together, frequented by illustrious figures of the time, including Kings and the famous Nostradamus and Paracelsus.
HERBS AND SPICES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
The lively trade associated with the life of the royal court from the 17th century onwards helped to supplement the already abundant supply of local ingredients (the vineyards, particularly of Moscato, stretched as far as the eye could see, all over the region) with refined exotic spices, which arrived in the city from the nearby port of Genoa via the Mediterranean Sea. This allowed court cooks, alchemists, pharmacists, liqueur-makers and distillers to learn about and make the best use of them in the preparation of their 'masterpieces'.
TURIN, CAPITAL OF LIQUEUR
The transfer of the capital from Chambery to Turin at the behest of King Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy encouraged the settlement of apothecaries, confectioners and distillers in the district of Sant'Espedito (the patron saint of shopkeepers), frequented by merchants who passed through the Segusina gate to trade in the city, paying the duty (tax on the movement of goods).
DORA GROSSA DISTRICT
The people renamed the ancient street dedicated to the saint, 'Dora Grossa', and it became the hub of Turin's liqueur-making art, with the highest concentration of producers, merchants and distributors of alcohol and spirits in all of Europe.
King Carlo Emanuele of Savoy issued an edict exempting liqueur and spirit production activity from taxation, providing a great incentive for master distillers to set up in the region and boosting trade.
THE FINE ROS SOLIS TORINESE
Turin's production excellence is confirmed by a French text, Massialot's "Nouvelle instruction pour les confitures et les liqueurs," which devotes a paragraph to Ros Solis (sun dew) or “Rosolio de Turin”.
The primacy of the people of Turin in this field was reaffirmed with the foundation in the city of the prestigious “Università degli Aquavitai e Confetturieri”, which awarded the title of 'Master Distiller' to the best students. Its birth was preceded by the publication of the 'Farmacopea Taurinensis' manual. In 1739, Turin’s primacy in liqueur making was confirmed with the establishment in the city of the prestigious
“Università degli Acquavitai e Confetturieri” attended by students seeking the title of “Master Distiller”.
At the turn of the new century, Turin recorded the presence of no less than 30 liqueur-makers, 42 distillers and 21 wine producers, not to mention a large number of cafés, wine bars and taverns, despite only 70,000 inhabitants. For all social classes, from the court aristocracy, diplomats and military men to the middle classes, there were always plenty of opportunities to sip on the exquisite vermouths and liqueurs. The “Vermouth hour” became the precise moment in the day, about an hour before dinner, when the inhabitants of Turin and foreigners alike used to enjoy vermouth accompanied by small plates of local gastronomic specialities.
The fame of Turin vermouths and liqueurs spread worldwide.