Visner, a traditional drink made from the judicious combination of a good red wine and a variety of cherries known in Italian as ‘visciole’, first produced in the Appennines on the Umbrian-Marches border, can be found in the homes of most of the local residents.
Dr Giuseppe Polchi, the Pietralunga pharmacist in the early 1900’s and great-grandfather of Nicola Polchi, the current producer of Sollucchero, perfected the recipe in his pharmacy, by stoning the ‘visciole’ one at a time, filtering the pulp through a linen cloth and thereby producing a delicious nectar which also preserved the health-giving properties of the precious fruit.
The ‘visciole’ cherries [Prunus cerasus] have various health-giving properties, of which the pharmacist was well aware and have recently been highlighted by scientific studies. Because of the antioxidants they contain, they slow down the ageing process. The presence of melatonin helps combat insomnia. The ‘visciole’ also contain vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium, iron, folic acid and fibre.
In one study researchers at the University of Michigan fed a group of animals a diet containing the cherries and discovered that they had reduced levels of cholesterol, triglicerides in the blood, weight loss and inflammation, factors which increase the risk of cardio-vascular disease.
Another study at Texas Health Science Center confirmed that the cherries aid sleep because of the melatonin [a substance which is found naturally in the brain and which stabilises human sleep patterns]. Melatonin also protects the body from stress because of its effects as an antioxidant. Russel J.Reiter who conducted the study maintains that the cherries combat heart disease, produce weight loss and reduce the risk of diabetes. In addition to these properties, the ‘visciole’ are also reputed to be an aphrodisiac as they stimulate the circulation and invigorate the body.
The old pharmacist brought fame to the treasure of Monte Valentino, an exquisite after dinner liqueur. Although the production process has developed in the course of time, it is still produced locally. It is thus that the current producers, Nicola and Fabrizia Polchi, can guarantee the quality of the liqueur.