The Tuscan Green Gold
The olive tree has very ancient origins, and its importance among civilizations and antique religious rites is well testified by the discovery – made in the Israeli city of Haifa – of traces of olive cultivation dating back to the 5th century B.C.
In the Bible, the olive tree is the symbol of the renewed peace between God and the men following the Great Flood, while for the Quran the olive represents peace and friendship. Owing to the Greeks and the Romans, the olive tree spread across the whole Mediterranean Basin.
The olive tree, diffused in the hilly areas of the Mediterranean, lives around one hundred years, and reaches fifteen metres of height. It is able to regenerate – that is, to produce new sprouts – and has lanceolate leaves. Its fruit is oval-shaped and has a colouring spanning from green to dark purple.
In Tuscany, the most diffused olive tree varieties are:
That called frantoio, which is characterized by an elevate and constant yield, and produces a strong-flavoured, spicy oil, whose colour is deep green;
Moraiolo: a rustic and undemanding olive, has a high yield and its oil – of good quality – is spicy and fruity in taste;
Pendolino: of Florentine origin, this variety produces a delicate, perfumed oil, slightly piquant and with bitter notes.
The olive oil is well known also for the great health benefits it brings, given its richness in vitamins, namely A and E.
Utilized also in the cosmetic industry, it has anti-ageing and re-hydrating properties, as well as being rich in nutrients for the regeneration of the scalp.
In Italy, there are two oil classifications, DOP/PDO (Denominazione di Origine Protetta – Protected designation of origin) and IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta – Protected geographical indication), and Tuscan oil can boast both.
The DOP/PDO is bestowed upon oils produced according to a strict regulation, that closely ties them to the territory during the whole production phase, from the gathering to the bottling, while the IGP/PGI, while also referring to the regulation, certifies that only one phase of the entire production process has taken place in the geographical area of reference.