The secret to Italian beauty is latte di asina, donkey milk. Yep, you’ve read it correctly: Donkey milk. “It nourishes, strengthens and stimulates,” wrote Greek historian Herodotus, 5th century BC. The Ancient Romans loved it even more. Infamous beauty Cleopatra, and empresses Poppea and Messalina bathed in it to preserve their youth, perhaps taking a hint from Pliny the Elder’s tome Natural History where 1st century Roman philosopher wrote that the donkey milk “makes face wrinkles disappear, smooths the skin and maintains the skin whiteness.”
Federica Zavaglia was captivated by antiquity’s clever beauty regimes and mixed it up with a little bit of 21st century science and some nonna know how to create Terre dei Papi, an organic luxury beauty cream and treatment line based on the extraordinary power of 100% Italian Donkey Milk.
“I was researching a marketing project for University of Windsor’s bio department and discovered that donkey milk is a supercharge for the immune system. It contains lactic acid, it’s a natural antiseptic and it’s the milk closest to mother’s milk,” Zavaglia tells us. And the rest is her story…
Let’s face it- it wasn’t too much of a stretch. The Italo-Canadese was long familiar with donkeys, afterall she was raised in the Lazio countryside of Castel Gandolfo, before moving to Canada. Every summer was spent in Italy with her nonni who imparted homeopathic remedies at every opportunity.
“Terre dei Papi is anatural and authentic cosmetic line that is absolutely Italian.”Federica Zavaglia, Terre dei Papi
“My nonna’s answer for anything is “Don’t worry nonna will take care of it” followed by a natural remedy. And here, they really believe in natural medicines because they really work. In fact, Italy has always been about man working with nature”, she explains. That mentality, plus donkey milk and locally foraged plants are the main ingredients in all Terre dei Papi’s products which include Lomentum butter or what Zavaglia describes as “whipped goodness to put anywhere and everywhere”, Balneum bath milk aka Cleopatra’s bath, and Luminus face cream.
“Italy has always been about man working with nature”,Federica Zavaglia, Terre dei Papi
Zavaglia maintains an Italy-focused, sustainable program. Her team forages all plant ingredients from the Italian countryside, while the extractions of active ingredients are performed in labs in northern Italy. Her 350 donkeys are free-range raised in Tuscany’s Maremma territory. Foals are never separated from their moms, and the majority of the milk is given to the foals, themselves. Terre dei Papi only retains one litre per mare for their products, and any extra milk is given to neonatal clinics.
“Terre dei Papi is distinguishably Italian not only for its spirit and history (Roman empresses and Popes bathed in donkey milk for beautiful skin), but also for its packaging – hand made in Tuscany – and most importantly, for its ingredients.”