Associazione Produttori Mirto di Sardegna Sardinia
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the mirto and myth
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From Mythology to History

Historical research has shown that the myrtle plant has been utilized in countless ways down trough the centuries.
The whole shrub, the leaves, flowers or berries have been used in ways that many would consider unusual, to say the least.
Myrtle appeared in literature in very remote times: the first references to this plant are found in the splendid pages of Greek mythology. We thus discover that it was sacred to Venus, the Goddess of Love, who after being chosen by Paris, wore a crown of woven myrtle leaves; for this reason, the ancient considered it a symbol of love and beauty.
The great sixteenth-century Venetian painter Titian, in his painting "Sacred Love and Profane Love", shows us a Venus crowned with myrtle as she attempts to reason with treacherous Medea. The plant was also considered decorative by the ancient Romans, who used the flowering shrub to adorn their streets and public squares. Both the Greeks and the Romans were aware of its medicinal characteristic; their derived infusion, oils, extracts and ointments from it to treat disorders like ulcers or respiratory infections. During the middle Ages, perfumers distilled its flowers to obtain essences called "angels' water". It was also used for black dye for cloth or ink for writing, in addition to being adopted for phytoterapy, aromatic therapy or phytocosmetics.
In Sardinia, the custom of using myrtle berries to make a liqueur probably dates back to the last century. The infusion was produced at home for family use according to a very simple recipe: ripe berries were steeped in a mixture of alcohol and water, and when sugar or honey was added as a sweetener, a sweet natural liqueur with a stomatic and digestive properties was obtained. Some "Mirto" liqueur producers still use this simple recipe today.

The Myrtle Plant

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