Umberto Rizza worked for 30 years as a pharmacist in Favignana. He did so by collecting a family tradition started in 1892. The first family pharmacist was in fact the great-grandfather Antonio Poma. The Rizza have given Favignana four generations of pharmacists-speziali. Speziali, just like that, because even when Umberto was a kid, and already helped his aunt to prepare remedies for customers, being a pharmacist did not mean just being behind a desk to sell packaged products. "I was born with the smell of medicine under my nose," he laughs at the memory.
Then it was necessary to be able to prepare powders and poultices in an artisan way, to dose the ingredients, to create something effective starting from the raw materials. In Umberto this aspect of the pharmacy has always been liked, and was perhaps the basis of his passion for the study of natural medicine and herbs. Because it is from the herbs that everything starts, and Favignana of herbs knows a surprising variety for such a small island.
"I was born with the smell of medicine under my nose"
Umberto Rizza studied and collected information on the 91 species of endemic medicinal herbs of Favignana in a book: I semplice di Favignana. There is even an exclusive plant of the Egadi, the Brassica macrocarpa, a species of cabbage. On this plant, studies were conducted at Oxford, because it would contain substances with remarkable antitumor properties.
But Umberto Rizza did not limit himself to writing about the plants and herbs of the Egadi. With 12 of those herbs has created an exceptional bitterness to which he gave his name, a tonic with digestive and protective properties distilled only by medicinal plants that grow in Favignana, with the addition of honey Marettimo thistle used instead of sugar or caramel , to balance the alcoholic part.
Among the plants contained in the bitter Rizza we find, among others, fennel and mint, widely used for bitter herbs, but also caper, rosemary, rue and nepetella. The bitter then contains Aloe vera, an excellent gastroprotector with well-known anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and cicatrizing properties.
A definition of the Amaro Rizza? Amaro Rizza is: "bottled health".
"Many plants have potential that we have not yet discovered"
The founding principle of Umberto Rizza's project was precisely the use of local plants, to enhance the territory. He conducted the whole experimental phase in his own laboratory, at home, and only when he was satisfied with the result, after countless tastings and corrections and studies, he started production in a distillery in Marsala. Today the bitter Rizza is sold in all the shops and clubs of Favignana, as well as in several outlets on the continent and online, even abroad.
Umberto Rizza is no longer a pharmacist, but continues to take care of natural medicine, as well as Iridology, Floritherapy, Chromology, Phytotherapy. "The modern pharmacy is a supermarket," he complains, and we do not want to blame him.
He lives between Favignana and Desenzano, where his daughter continues the family tradition working as a pharmacist.
He is perfecting other products based on the grass of the Egadi, and we are sure that the result will be just as exciting as the one obtained with the Amaro Rizza.
"Many plants have potential that we have not yet discovered" he tells us, and we are convinced that, if there is anyone who can discover them, it is this fantastic other times pharmacist-herbalist!