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