Puglia + Olive Oil = An Ancient Relationship!

July 20, 2015 / Local Interest
Squinzano, Puglia

60 Million Olive Trees… One for Each of Italy’s 60 Million People… But Who’s Counting?

Puglia’s relationship with olive trees dates back 2700 years. 50-60 million trees (no one knows for sure) – including ancient, gnarled trees, called “ulivi secolari” (literally centuries-old olive trees)- attest to the long standing importance of olive trees here.

Photo - Victoria De Maio

You may have thought that most of Italy’s olive oil came from Tuscany or Sicily but, in fact, more comes from Puglia than any other region – approximately 40%. In addition to quantity, Puglia’s olive oil is considered to be some of the most palatable in the world for its digestibility and high vitamin content.  Puglia also has the distinction of having four Denominazione di Origine Protetta areas. The envy of other regions, prized trees were once stolen in the dark of night! (Today, laws protecting the illegal appropriation of trees are enforced.)

Azienda Agricola Taurino, in Squinzano (near Lecce), is typical of a family owned/operated farm. In 1985, siblings Donato and Rosaria joined their parents and expanded their farm to 150 hectares of olive trees. The family takes pride in “hands on” oversight of  every stage of production from growth to processing of the olives to ensure that the highest standards and guidelines are followed.

Photo - Victoria De Maio

Utilizing the latest technology in a spotlessly clean facility, the entire process is carefully supervised to ensure the highest quality, organic oil.  After a very informative guided tour, learn how to taste organic extra virgin olive oil (hint: it’s a version of swirl+smell+sip+swallow).

Photo - Victoria De Maio
Photo - Victoria De Maio

If you visit in October during harvest it’s a special time celebrated with traditional local festivities including dancing the pizzica under the ancient olive trees!

You can take a little bit of Puglia home with you and you can also Adopt-a-Tree and enjoy your own olive oil! Doesn’t that sound delicious ?

Photo - Victoria De Maio

Victoria De Maio

by Victoria De Maio

Victoria is a lover of all things Italian! A travel advisor, blogger, writer, tour leader, and published author, she is passionate about traveling to and writing about Italy.

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21 Responses to “Puglia + Olive Oil = An Ancient Relationship!”

  1. Francesco Paolo

    Puglia is special and the olive oil there is the best in the world! I try to go there every few years to see my family, who are in the business too!

    Reply
  2. Giuseppe Spano
    Giuseppe Spano

    cara Vittoria,,,again and again you etoll the beauty and wonders of Italia e Puglia We have many times visited our friends in Galatina and danced the pizzica with them enjoying the foods of the region thank you thank you for opening the eyes of the unbelievers….

    Reply
    • Victoria De Maio

      Grazie ancora Giuseppe! I do love Puglia and look forward to learning and dancing the pizzica!
      I so appreciate your comments…
      Buonagiornata!
      Victoria

      Reply
  3. this isn’t a very suitable post at a moment when Puglia is losing thousands of olives due to a newly arrived fungal virus. Great swathes of healthy trees are being removed to try to hep the trees in the rest of Italy.

    Reply
    • Victoria De Maio

      Christina,
      Thank you for your comment. However, I actually think it is quite suitable now.
      The fungal virus isn’t new – it has been dramatically affecting trees in the north affecting production (along with bad weather last year) in Tuscany and Umbria. It is The removal of trees in Puglia, whether deemed “healthy” or not, is quite controversial. To my knowledge it’s to protect the very heart of Puglia, it’s olive trees.
      I feel it’s important to bring attention to this region and to the fact that the tradition of olive trees and production of olive oil is so important.

      Reply
    • Giuseppe Spano
      Giuseppe Spano

      Such a good time to encourage those Pugliesi who struggle to keep ahead of the crumbling system and yet find it in their hearts to open the doors of compassion to others forced to leave the homelands of their fathers …..only Italy keeps the doors open When other surrounding peoples close the borders refusing to see what others suffer…

      Reply
  4. Sandi Spector

    I also read about the horrible diseaase that is killing off trees in Puglia. Can you please comment or do an additional post. Grazie

    Reply
    • Victoria De Maio

      Sandi,
      I just commented re: Christine. Each time I go to Puglia and ask about the fungus I get slightly different responses and the extent of the trees and the controversial destroying of trees to “prevent” the spread.
      I’m returning in October and will definitely make a point of getting the local view on this disturbing disease.
      Thank you for commenting.

      Reply
  5. Lorraine

    I have relatives in San Vito who have a large grove. They have not witnessed any signs if the fungus (). Thank you for the article it was very interesting.

    Reply
    • Victoria De Maio

      Thank you Lorraine. Sometimes the headlines and media do get a bit dramatic – I found the reaction this spring to be more subdued where I was (as far as the fungus)…but I’ll be interested to see local opinion and response in October during harvest…

      Reply
  6. Gian Banchero

    Thank you for the article Victoria. For the third time in five years my olive tree is to produce a bumper crop of fruit this year, maybe twenty pounds, bless my California. As usual the olives will be washed and dried, slashed with a very sharp knife, salted and placed in a basket to drain until they become wrinkled, then the salt will be wiped off and olive oil rubbed all over them=Paradise!! Today I’m making country bread with home-made yeast which will be served with olive oil and olives from last year’s harvest, along with maybe a hard boiled egg no more is needed.

    Reply
      • Gian Banchero

        Si’ Vittoria, the door is always open to you as is the kitchen… Visit in a little while and you may share this year’s bumper crop of figs; surreptitiously over the years when returning home I’ve taped cuttings on my legs from 12 different types of Italian figs, from Liguria to Sicilia, also we will enjoy prickly pears from four different cacti from La Sicilia. And, if my senior years allow the energy from the garden I’ll pick an eggplant and I’ll server the real pasta alla Norma, but everyone has the “real” recipe. Have a nice day!

        Reply
    • Hopefully god blesses “your” California soon and brings some rain, albeit without the destruction of the last storm. I was in the San Francisco area recently to visit family and it was like being in the middle of a desert, amazed people endure it. I’m told rain dances are the order of the day. In the beautiful North East rain is plentiful and the gardens and fields flourish with a harvest sempre abbondante.
      In bocca al lupo mio amico

      Reply
  7. Marisha Zeffer

    any comment on news here that a lot of Italian olive oils are actually hijacked from producers and replaced with lesser oils….?

    Reply
  8. Mary Ellen Gadski

    I’ve enjoyed some wonderful olive oil from a national park in Puglia not far from my grandfather’s birthplace. It’s imported by a company in Massachusetts. Sorry to say, I cannot recall either name. Can you?

    Reply
  9. David Miller

    My family went to Puglia three summers ago and visited this farm. We walked through the groves, saw the production equipment, and had a tasting. Awesome olive oil … just fantastic. I highly recommend a visit there – and ask for Valentino!

    Reply
  10. Debby Miller

    I have been reading Italian Notebook almost from its beginnings. Today’s article on Puglia’s olive oil hit home. We had the grand tour of this farm and production company. Not only did we love our visit but our son decided to import their olive oil and now supplies Charlotte, N. C. with some of the best olive oil out there. Hats off to Azienda Agricola Taurino!!!

    Reply
  11. Ginny Siggia

    I’m reminded of a party I attended many years ago. The hosts had a swimming pool and there was an olive tree nearby. The hostess complained that they olives made such annoying oily splotches on the concrete decking. Oh, should live’s problems be only this serious. I’m not sure what HER problem was …
    I’m also reminded of a comment by a tour guide in Ireland that there were more sheep than people. Well, it depends on the source you check. But if it isn’t more, it’s close to the same number, between 3.5-5 million sheep.

    Reply

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