The Bridget Witch botanic garden and the Castel San Giovanni botanic garden, in Chiese Valley, are dedicated to officinal herbs, both aiming at enhancing the knowledge on local herbs and their use.
In Chiese Valley there are two botanic gardens dedicated to officinal herbs, both aiming at enhancing the knowledges on local herbs and their use. Regarding to their management, the first is in charge of a local cooperative society, the second of a farmer. Along the Caino River Ethnographic path 'The Bridget Witch vegetable garden” has been created, dedicated to officinal herbs. It reminds the figure of a witch that lived nearby the Caino River; she used to pick up and grow officinal herbs, which she also used for poisoning her lovers. In the past the knowledge of herbs and their medicinal properties was widespread in the Alps, especially between women; during the Inquisition Age this kind of knowledges, together with the 'miraculous' skilfulness in curing diseases, was often considered as an evil power: lots of so-called 'witches' lived in Trentino and a lot of them were processed, as witnessed by old acts. Bridget is told to have been so clever that she won all the processes. Officinal herbs, together with small fruits, are also the focus of “La Contadina Educational Farm” activities. The farmer keeps a botanic garden at 1000 m (in the Bondone municipality) where tourists and clients can join guided visits to the officinal herbs cultivations.
“Initiatives and development” cooperative society; Valle del Chiese Ecomuseum; La Contadina farm
Knowledges about local plants and herbs are part of the almost-forgotten heritage of past rural people. At the present time herbal products are gaining great attention, because their use, in some cases (and when careful), can be less harmful than that of traditional chemical medicines. The interest towards 'ancient natural remedies' is growing. In this perspective the re-discover of the traditional knowledge on officinal herbs properties, along with a more scientific awareness about them, is very useful for most of the people. In addition, a territory can be better known by means of its herbs and plants knowledge: this is why this kind of initiatives can be useful both for residents and for tourists. The educational laboratory “The Bridget Witch Herbs” has been planned as a walk along the Caino River, during which the spontaneous officinal herbs are collected for then being put into a little herbarium. Regional importance.
The Chiese Valley, with its wild nature, is particularly suited for the plant observation. One of its mountains, Mount Tombea, is internationally known for its big variety of interesting botanic species, some of them survived to the last Glacial Period. The interest for local botanic varieties is quite widespread, as witnessed by the thesis 'Flora and vegetation of the Caino River Valley' dedicated to the Caino River botanic species; in Chiese Valley also exists a farm, the La Contadina farmer, in addition to its officinal herbs farming, is in charge of guiding the visits in the Castel San Giovanni botanic garden.