This week’s post is all about the annual olive harvest. If you care for top quality, chemical free, pure extra virgin olive oil then feel free to read on. If you don’t...erm, I guess read anyway. 

It’s common, in the area we live in northern Italy, due to the amount of readily available land, for family homes to include a good sized garden. And these gardens are put good to use to growing seasonal vegetables throughout the year. Alessia’s family is no exception, especially her dad who, in the summer is oh so proud of his Cantaloupes and Water melon. Very often you’ll drive past a hand painted sign at the side of the road saying something like, “Potatoes for sale 100m” or, “Vende vino”.

Yes, grapes and the wine making industry is massive here. But a substantial amount of Italy’s olive oil is produced here too. Particularly where we live we are surrounded by grapes and olive groves. It’s the way we roll.

Late October is the time to collect them, and it’s quite a task because by the end when they have all been squeezed there’s usually enough oil to supply 4-5 families for a whole year with a little left over for private sale.

First we cover the ground underneath the trees with huge nets. These are then set in place with metal pegs. Olives plants, like grapes flourish and thrive on hilly, sloped terrain. Hence the use of nets. Everyone is armed with a small handheld rake and gets to work, scraping through the leaves.

It’s really a social gathering. A time to chat and joke. Friends and family all chip in, even the bambini – though I’m sure many olives are squished on site by tiny feet. 

Once a tree has been stripped bare, it’s then on to the next. And no matter how good you think you are at spotting that last elusive olive, they’ll always be one or two that survive the peril of the press.

What do you guys get up to on a family meet up?

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