It all started with a trip to Italy 15 years ago. I was exploring hills of San Gimignano with the Mayor’s

daughter, who was acting as translator and liaison with the Italian government bureaucracy, for I
foolishly got married in Italy to a man I barely knew. It didn’t last long-19 days-but that’s not the story.

As we walked across the rooftops admiring the 15 towers remaining that were constructed in perhaps
the greatest family feud of all time as the Guelfi and Ghibellini families competed building up to 72
towers at one point.

What I remember is that we walked out to a terrace, and there was a magnificent olive tree surrounded
by inlaid mosaic tiles radiating in a circle around the tree. There was a low fence on the perimeter of
the tiles that was just far enough away that no one could reach over to touch even the lowest hanging
branch. I was told that this was the original olive tree brought to Italy. We marched around the tree in a
circle in silence, in procession, and I in reverence to a glorious creation. It has haunted me ever since.

I have since been on a hunt for the “original” olive tree. I have quizzed people who have visited San
Gimignano recently and asked if they say that museum with the olive tree. No bites. So I’m going back,
this time with my husband (the first one was just practice) and we are going back to San Gimignano to
find the tree.

Even if I don’t find it, did you know San Gimignano is known for their saffron as well? Saffron spice is
derived from the dried stigma of the saffron crocus. It is one of the most expensive spices used as a
seasoning, fragrance, dye, and medicine. A new quest is born.

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