Olive oil is the green gold of Vicopisano. Almost everyone has to do with the olives around here, whether it’s a simple plant in the garden or an entire olive grove makes no difference: what the inhabitants of Vicopisano have with oil is a deep connection, tradition and affection.
It is part of the local culture, which is why it is always a pleasure and an honor for all to share it’s secrets, history, taste and flavor. For those who want to live close to this passion, between October and December is the ideal time to take a leap and get hands a little dirty, in the course of the harvesting and all the various fascinating stages of the oil production process.
Harvest and pressing experience
In the last years, environmental and animal factors have complicated the timing of harvest but, in principle, the longer you allow the single olive to grow and mature in all its splendor, the greater the pressed oil quality will be.
“Fare le olive”(do olives) – as they say here-is a work of patience and, when the time comes, of great fatigue, but also satisfaction: in the days of harvest the alarm rings very early, you wear comfortable clothes and prepares everything needed for breakfast, lunch and snack breack. The characteristic terraces require the manual harvest so, olive by olive, you fill the boxes which must be brought immediately to the mill: this is where the magic is done. The olives are weighed, stripped of their leaves, washed and subjected to a first extraction phase: the milling. then follows the kneading and separation of the oil from the water with a variety of processes. That released from the pressing is the smell of autumn in Vicopisano: an intense, pungent scent of olives that any Vicarese would be able to recognize among a thousand others.
Visits and tastings on the farm and in the mills of Vicopisano
While the experiences relating to the harvest are concentrated between the end of September and the first weeks of December, visits to farms and mills are programmable over the entire course of the year: waiting for you is a journey through olive groves, ancient millstones and the most modern extraction equipment. Full of pride, manufacturers are sure to make you taste the new oil (called olio novo) in the typical Tuscan bruschetta we call “garlic bread” (fettunta) – and all delicious modern flavored variants: lemon, pepper, rosemary, garlic and basil – or participate the professional tasting demonstrations.
The town of Vicopisano, part of the National Association of Oil City, houses two mills and a large number of farms and private farmers. Cutting edge in research and technological innovation, some manufacturers have woven collaborations with national research institutions, to develop systems that track and enhance the productions certifying the Made in Italy quality.
If you are planning a holiday in the village of Vicopisano and surrounding area, take the opportunity to discover the exciting adventure of the harvest or participate in tastings and visits to farms or to the mill: ask the Tourism Office to recommend tourist farms and the eighteenth-century mills of the area. Here is a tip: the sunset from the top of a Tuscan olive tree is a must, climb one!