The Olive cultivation

The olive tree was first brought to the Mediterranean by the Phoenicians. The tree arrived in Greece and other near by countries between the eighth and ninth century BC; it first appeared in Italy, and more precisely Sicily between the fourth and fifth centuries BC.

Olive oil wasn’t used only as a seasoning to food, but also in the preparation of ointment, balms and perfumes.

The real cultvation of the olives was first introduced at Taggia by the Benedictine monks after the Saracen invasions around the twelfth century. The trees were transported from Montecassino, this initial cultivation also prompted the method of dividing the land into terraces with the dry stone walls to allow space for the cultivation.

Consequently due to Taggia being one of the first areas used for the olive cultivation, this valley today remains highly renowned on a European level and was therefore nominated “ Taggiasca”. The taggiasca olive comes from an ancient tree ( over one hundred years). The trunk is very large and can reach 10 – 15 metres in height, it has a rich foliage set along branches that reach huge heights up and around the tree. The trees leaves are an intense colour of green, curiously, these leaves have an almost silvery tone on the underside, especially when blowing in the breeze. This is probably thought to be the reason why this valley was named “Argentina” meaning silver. The fruit from these trees when reaching maturity are a rich, deep purple in colour with a soft skin and ample pulp which assures a good yield when pressed.

The productive cycle of the fruit takes place in the winter months, generally from November to March. When the olives are mature the harvest starts. Large nets are spread on the ground around the trees, these nets catch the olives as they fall from the trees after the method of beating,“Abbacchiatura” ( use of special bats to knock the olives from the trees) has been completed. The sticks or bats used for this technique are made from chestnut , beech or nut wood and it is the contact with the branches of the tree that causes the olives to fall. Today electric beaters are used , which use a swinging motion to shake the olives from the branches.

After the harvest is complete, they are taken to the press where the process to extract the precious extra virgin oil begins.