EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL IN UMBRIA - A SMART GUIDE
THE MILLENNIAL HISTORY
“The people of the Mediterranean began to emerge from barbarism when they learnt to cultivate the olive and the vine”, the Greek historian Thucydides wrote. The use of olive oil in the civilizations from southern Europe is old as the continent itself.
It’s been proven that the Etruscans cultivated olive trees in Umbria in the fifth century B.C. and used olive oil both for local consumption and cosmetic and also for trade exchanges.
For the Romans olive oil was the principal source of energy for workers and soldiers during their domination on the continent.
After the collapsing of the Roman Empire at the beginning of the Middle Ages, a long period of wars and famine reduced olive growing to a minimum and it was kept only thanks to the friars, in the so-called horti conclusi (fenced house-gardens) belonging to the abbeys and the monasteries. The monks in fact were, in many cases, the guardians of the Latin food tradition until the 14th century and the Renaissance, a period in which the olive tree was often represented in many frescoes and paintings, showing a renewed importance in the Italian food habits.
The general tendency in Umbria for the past three decades is making high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oils. Umbria achieves about the 2-3% of the entire production of Italy, a small volume, but very hi-end.
Today the region is divided in 5 different olive oil micro-areas, under the main label DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) Umbria:
- Colli Martani: area located in central Umbria, including our town Todi. Here, the most important olive tree varieties are: Moraiolo, Frantoio, Leccino and the very rare San Felice.
- Colli Amerini: in southern Umbria with its indigenous Rajo variety, together with Leccino and Frantoio.
- Colli Orvietani: on the western part including Moraiolo, Frantoio and Leccino varieties
- Colli Assisi-Spoleto: on the north-eastern part with Moraiolo, Frantoio and Leccino
- Colli del Trasimeno: around the area of Trasimeno Lake with the native and rare variety Dolce Agogia.
Differently from other oils like corn or sunflower, extra virgin [i.e. oil obtained only by pressing the olives] olive oil is the only one that comes from a fresh fruit.
5 reasons to include Extra Virgin Olive Oil in our diet every day:
1. It contains polyphenols, antioxidants that slow the ageing of cells down
2. It helps to produce good cholesterol (HDL), which helps to keep the arteries clean
3. It is the only oil that is 100% digestible, supporting the digestive activity and renal function
4. It is a natural anti-inflammatory
5. Used every day, it has anti-cancer properties
Find out more on Extra Virgin Olive Oil! Join our EVOO tours in Umbria!
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