Olive oil

This morning  it was raining  hard over Rome so we decided to drive to the Roman Hills (Castelli Romani) to buy some good olive oil.  Our olive oil  supply bought in Tuscany last summer was at the end: I had been trying desperately  to squeeze the last few drops  from the bottle last night but I was unsuccesful in dressing my salad…

I had a recommendation  in the area of Velletri so we drove there. I called the owners before leaving  to be sure they had olive oil for sale.

After 40 minutes we arrived  in a beautiful countryside and the sky was clearing up, you could see the coastline in the distance.

The owner of the farm and his wife welcomed us on the door: the first thing I noticed was the  garden full of lush velvety camelias ranging from red to pale white. The Velletri area is renown for the camelia plants and there is  a camelia fest every year in March.

They were a very nice couple, friendly and enthusiastic. They showed us all the garden, with the camelias, citrus plants, cactaceous plants and the large olive grove (some 600 olive trees).

Then they led us into the frantoio (olive press room ) where the olives are pressed to produce the new oil in November:  the press was quiet and all shiny awaiting next season.

Then the wife brought a tray with toasted bread slices and here comes the best part of the morning: olive oil tasting!

We tasted the 3 different qualities they produce: delicate, classic and Itrano (made out of of olives typical of  the Itri region).

The first two were very good but similar in taste, while the Itrano was stronger with a distinctive fresh “grassy” taste that smelled of  artichokes and other herbs. They were all delicious but the Itrano was superb!

In Italy olive trees  are planted all over the country and the variety of fragrances, colours and tastes is incredible. Some of the most famous extra virgin olive oils come from Tuscany, Liguria and Umbria but many lesser known areas produce good olive oils such as the Roman countryside.

We decided to buy a small tank of classic to be used as an all purpose and 3 bottles of Itrano quality just to dress  foods without cooking the oil so that its flavour will remain intact.

olive oil, bread and mimosa

Before leaving the owners gave some mimosa flowers and a humongous grapefruit from their garden and we left very happy and satisfied.

humongous grapefruit and Lorenzo's hand

One reply to “Olive oil

  1. I totally agree about the unique herby taste of the Olive Oil derived from the Itrana variety of olives, particulary the oil that comes from the “Early November / December Pressing”. The taste and aroma is exquisite.

    We are an English Couple who came on holiday several times to the beautiful area of South Lazio, which remains relatively undiscovered by foreign tourists. We liked it so much that we decided to sell up in the UK and make our home in the small town of Itri, the home of the Itrana olive variety.

    We purchased a run-down farmhouse with approximately 600 olive trees, and we renovated the house and are currently working on getting the neglected olive grove back into full production.

    The oil derived solely from this wonderful Itrana variety has yet to be duly accredited for its superior quality, being exceptionally low in acidity, in fact far below the 0.8% international standard for Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It is generally accepted that olive oil, this fine natural product, is full of health giving properties. Indeed our 86 year old neighbour seems to be living proof of this, as he is still fit enough to climb his ladder, with secateurs and pruning saw in hand, to lovingly tend his trees.

    We are co-ordinating a small co-operative of local farmers who produce this magnificent olive oil, which is renowned for its unique flavour and also delicious Itri olives, perhaps more common known as “Gaeta olives”.

    Therefore, it is something of an enigma to us, whether by accident or by design, why the superior Extra Virgin Olive Oil from this beautiful area of South Lazio has been kept until now, such a well guarded secret?

    This is a situation we hope to change, as we have a burning desire to help bring this wonderful product to a wider market and share our passion for this, the very best of Italian fayre.

    For further details about this special product please feel free to contact us. ph.shapcott @ btinternet.com

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