Singing Olive Tree?

February 6, 2012 / Places
Castelnuovo di Farfa, Lazio
There is absolutely no telling what you will find in the small towns of Italy. In the tiny village of Castelnuovo di Farfa, north of Rome in Lazio, there is the most sophisticated celebration of olive oil and olive trees in Italy. Along with the usual displays of centuries-old oil presses and containers, there is a singing olive tree, along with avantgarde art devoted to the culture of the olive.

Yes, that’s right, the tree sings – with a little help from olive oil dripping from a complex maze of tubes, which somehow makes the tree turn around, which then causes its branches to brush against the strings of a unique instrument designed just for this purpose. The effect is amazing and dramatic. The ancient tree, probably dead for centuries, has found an active afterlife onstage in a small museum in the area called Sabina. You really must see it.

The cultivation of olives in the Sabine Hills dates back to the 6th c. BC. The ancient Greeks considered the oil from here to be the best quality, a tradition that continues today with olive oil from this area bearing the DOP certification.

Stop off at the ancient city bakery, where a symbolic fire bakes ceramic loves in tribute to the idea that “Bread is to Oil as dreams are to the Earth.” A visit to the museum, located in Palazzo Perelli, can also include a stop at nearby San Donato church, built in the Early Middle Ages, where there is an orchard of olive trees from around the Mediterranean.

The “Museo dell’Olio della Sabina” is located at Via Perelli 9, Castelnuovo di Farfa, Lazio, about 35 miles (60 km) from Rome. It’s open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

– Contributed by Sharri Whiting ( Sharri writes about culture, food, wine and travel, including her blog, UmbriaBella.Her app, Olive Oil IQ, is available for both Apple and Android devices.  An encyclopedia for foodies and culinary travelers, it includes the fascinating history of this Mediterranean staple, recipes, detailed information for buying, storing and tasting olive oil, plus travel info for visitors to Italy’s oil producing areas.

Sharri Whiting

by Sharri Whiting

Sharri writes about food, wine and international travel from Umbria, where she and her husband grow olives. In addition to articles, she writes a blog,  UmbriaBella. Her app, Olive Oil IQ is a portable encyclopedia for foodies and culinary travelers (iTunes & Android). Follow her on Twitter: @umbriabella and @oliveoiliq. Facebook:, and

8 Responses to “Singing Olive Tree?”

  1. Evanne

    While in Farfa, don’t forget to visit Farfa Abbey (Notebook story Sept. 28, 2009. It’s a marvel of a spot!)

  2. Angelina Limato

    It is always interesting to see what they can come up with. The ingenuity is amazing. I love olive oil so anything to do with it and the great olive has to be a good thing. Maybe someone will get to do a video of this and put it on YouTube. It would be nice to see and hear it in action. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Jill Ackerman

    enjoyed this note on the singing olive tree.
    I have been to Sabina with friends, to spend the day in the countryside and collect the olives in autunno. Such lovely memories…

  4. Miriam Raubvogel

    The vignettes,pictures and info. I receive from this site are always interesting…love getting them..Thank you.M.R,


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