Bringing Olive Oil to The World – History of Olive Oil in Umbria

Umbria is in the centre of Italy and is genuinely the ‘green heart’ of Italy, for a good reason. It features no view of the sea or coastline but has many olive trees growing on its slopes and hills. The best extra virgin olive oils originate in Italy, and one of the five Umbria subareas are Colli Orvietani, Colli Amerini, Colli del Trasimeno, Colli Martani, and Colli Assisi-Spoleto. This area is rich in art, history, and nature, though it is a small area.

The Tourist Abode

Tourism in Umbria that is olive oil-related has developed and is also better organised than other parts of Italy. During the annual event, there are amazing showcases of olive oil tours in Umbria. The tourist program is luxurious and is growing steadily. People visiting Umbria in November get an opportunity to enjoy free guided tours into the participant villages and cities, cooking classes, music concerts, trekking through olive groves, horse ridings and also witnessing olive harvests.  Each visit ends with a freshly milled oil tasting session with a fragrant warm slice of bread. This is done keeping with their native tradition of serving bruschetta with flavoured olive oil. Visitors come across typical Umbria-based products such as the tasty Castelluccio lentils and Umbrian wines, as well. This is because of the Umbria Wine Tourism Movement that is in collaboration with the Castelluccio Lentils PGI. In fact, visitors can get a free shuttle service to the mills from the main villages.

A Peep into the History of Olives from Umbria

Umbria has the most suited land among the Italian regions for green olive cultivation. There are several types of these trees, and Umbria was the first to practice the cultivation of the olive saplings. Gradually, many towns in Umbria gravitated into the ancient Etruria orbit and became rich owing to the production and marketing of this oil.

Olive cultivation became a steady development with the Roman civilisation expansion. In fact, Umbrian oil is regarded to be the most valuable of olive oils and was recognised for its organoleptic characteristics that brought actual exports to the capital along the Tiber River.  At that time, the Latin scholars found that olive trees came in different varieties, and the oil, in five categories:

  • After Easter Oleum ex Ulivis. This was precious oil acquired from light green olives.
  • Viride from the olives that became darker.
  • Maturum were made from ripe olives.
  • Caducum was from olives that were ground harvested, and
  • Cibarium for the slaves

The oil production in Italy in the first century A.D. declined, and this was owing to the competing oils coming in low-cost from Spain and Africa. In fact, Umbrian imports were resented, and this resulted in the weakening of the market. However, in the Middle Ages, there was a partial recovery. The actual increase came from 1400 when the farmers were forced to engage and implant annual olive trees quota, and luckily the olive areas grew to its maximum popularity at the time.

In the 16th and 17th centuries there was a progressive increase with olive tree prices, and in 1800 there was a massive jump in the cultivation of olive trees owing to incentive measures taken by the Papal States.