RITA RUSSOTTO – «From the American dream to the Sicilian dream»

We tell you about a place where perfumes are the undisputed protagonists. Not the artificial fragrances, emblazoned, but those aromas that know of earth, nature, sun and sea breeze. It is the wonderful world of aromatic plants that rises between Scicli and Sampieri, in the province of Ragusa, in the company “Gli Aromi Sicily” by Enrico Russino from which, with the contribution of his wife Rita Russotto, the “Affetto Serra” project was born.

by Giuseppe Savarino

A story that is the union of different worlds that are meeting up to merge: cuisine and nature, Sicily and America, passion and concreteness. The emblem of the American dream, but on the contrary. Rita was born in New York and returned to Sicily at the age of 7.

Rita fell in love with these places that she knew from the stories of her family. They had seemed exotic lands, far away, almost unreachable, and now they presented themselves in all their magnificence before her eyes, and when the rest of the family decided to return to America, Rita now adult, remained in Sicily.

She is passionate about taste: from the palate, to aesthetics, to beauty. The kitchen is one of her greatest passions and with creativity, study and technique can create with only a few ingredients, unique and tasty dishes.

Ten years ago, she met Enrico, her husband and owner of the “Gli Aromi” company, and later she opened her restaurant: Satra, in Scicli, of which she was chef for seven years.

Rita, immediately became fascinated by the project of Gli Aromi, that, over the years, it took shape thanks to a lot of experience and passion. The company has specialized step by step to include 200 different varieties of herbs for cooking, gardens and wellness: thyme, rosemary, sage, origan, fragrant geraniums, lavender and many others.

Over the years the presence of Rita became almost a requirement for the numerous requests of customers to celebrate the most important events of their lives in this fascinating location. Gli Aromi, in fact, is located on a hill between Scicli and Sampieri, where the eye is lost in the infinity of the sea and from where you can see, in the clearest days, the seaside village of Punta Secca and the island of Malta. The beautiful sunsets become a must for all visitors of the company. So, the olfactory paths between the herbs, with lunch or final dinner, became indispensable appointments for customers and tourists. You walk among the herbs and perfumes, and then you drink a good glass of wine accompanied by products prepared by chef Rita Russotto.

“When we started this project with my brothers Giovanni and Alessandra, my sister-in-law Evelina and my father Ignazio, about 20 years ago, people pointed out to us as crazy – says Enrico Russino – and they were right. They told us that we could not do business with herbs and maybe it was true, but now the company is the only one in Sicily specialized in aromatic and medicinal plants.

For 8 years we have developed about 50 product references ranging from kits to produce caper plant at home, to the flavored sub-pot, to the decongestant mask for the eyes and to food-related products such as flavored jams, patés and range of flavored salts and all dried products. With Rita we are developing a line of recipes for products in a jar, signed by Russotto”.

In 2018, Rita and Enrico give life to a new project “Affetto Serra” proposing Gli Aromi as a romantic and poetic location for the fateful day Yes. Having become a municipal house, they have appeared in the wedding sector, proposing different services to couples: from the location to the catering, from scenography to the wedding favors. A truly unique project in Sicily.

Thus, the inspiration of Rita is transferred to the countryside where she manages to free her ideas of combinations of raw materials, creating dishes from the earth to the table.

In addition to the olfactory route, the company also has an area with thyme or lawn mats, where you can take Yoga, Thai chi and Pilates classes and at the end you can have a light drink for wellness lovers.

The ultimate goal is to create a mini resort surrounded by herbs and overlooking the Mediterranean, where you can live a unique and unrepeatable experience in Sicily.

“Our project is ‘Aromantic’- tells Rita Russotto – what we have created is not a job but a mission. With love, passion and stubbornness we are recognized in the world. Now Americans and Northern European buses arrive directly in the company. And this makes us understand that our dream is becoming more and more shaped”.

A dream that as an American, has turned into the great Sicilian dream.

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