Ferdinando de’ Medici (1549-1609),
Scipione Pulzone (1544 - 1598), Private collection.
On 21 September 1589, Rosselli started to compile his own book of recipes to pass down to his two sons, Francesco and Vincenzo, who would go on to continue the pharmacy. The book begins with a poison remedy credited to none other than Cosimo de' Medici. Recipe no. 9 is the grand duke’s antispasmodic oil, presented by Niccolò Sisti, with whom Antonio Neri would later work at the glass house in Pisa. No. 20 is the duke's oil for deafness, also presented by Sisti. No. 41 is a poison antidote revealed to Francesco de' Medici by the Archduke of Austria. It was tested on a prisoner at the Bargello prison, a "volunteer" who was intentionally poisoned as part of the experiment, then revived with the antidote in the presence of Stefano Rosselli and Baccio Baldini, the long time physician to Cosimo I. Supposedly, the prisoner's reward for surviving was early release.
Recipe No. 30 carries perhaps a bit less risk; it is titled "Acqua da gengie di messer Nerj Nerj" (Mouth wash of Neri Neri):
Take a quarter of a bushel of mastic buds,a quarter of a bushel of myrtle buds, a quarter of a bushel of red roses, three ounces of alum, a half ounce of salt and a quarter ounce of hard rose honey. Mash the herbs with a mortar and pestle and put them in nine pounds of Greek wine for twenty-four hours, then boil in a bain-marie and reduce to two-thirds. In this, we bathe the gums: it makes them dry and firm.Mastic: Pistacia lentiscus. Native to the Mediterranean, its resin used for millennia to settle upset stomachs.
Myrtle: Myrtus communis. An Aromatic herb used by the ancients, effective treatment for sinusitis.
Alum: Used by the ancients as a treatment for canker sores.
Rose Honey: Miele rosato. Honey infused with rose petals, an astringent still used to sooth children’s teething pains. It is produced both as a solid and a liquid.
Greek Wine: Vino Greco. Italian wine made in the style of sweet Greek wines. In 1673, English botanist John Ray describes it as being made from grapes grown on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius.
The date that Stefano Rosselli started his book of secrets is interesting because it is the same day that Neri Neri, with the grand duke's two other physicians, Cini and Da Barga, were busy making medicinal wine based on Dioscorides' ancient recipes. Perhaps they all met that day at Rosselli's shop, for his advice.
 Neri, Benadù, Rosselli, Galletti 1597.
 Rosselli 1996; an Italian transcription and French translation of Rosselli's recipes, with a very entertaining introduction.
* This post first appeared here on 4 November 2013 in a shorter form.
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