The fabulous olive trees of Puglia
Between the land of Bari and the ancient lands of Otranto it is guarded a treasure that once served to massage Olympic athletes, to anoint kings, perfuming pharaohs and ancient fill the coffers, and now as then embellishes every food, with an aroma full of history . That treasure by the Greeks was called elaion, from Latin oleum and was, as it is, for all the peoples of the Mediterranean real liquid gold.
The meeting with these millennial olive trees has something magical: play rolling hills and their slopes until you reach the sea, forming forests that still give the feeling of being able to go back in time, it could slip into history, to dive in an eternal landscape, remained intact over the centuries. Wonderful is the view of these forests from the top of the hills, looking towards the sea as a backdrop, with its deep blue, or sunset as the sun burns the sky, or when evening. While all around the darkness is intense, large trees remain from view until the last, shaking their branches looking forward to the evening breeze, still full of light, oil-filled and life. In those mighty branches, in those trunks sculpted by time it is summed up the awesome power of nature. Represent not only beauty, the olive trees are our historical landscape, the same who accompanied the Normans and the Aragonese, the Anjou and the Spanish, the Bourbons and the Piemontesi.
The expanse of ancient olive groves is a complex system where history, nature and agriculture were intertwined harmoniously over the millennia.
The main and most common varieties of olives grown in Puglia can be considered indigenous to their specific biological adaptation took place over time. All varieties of olive have taken matters in relation to the terrain, climate and cultivation methods and are therefore the selection of the most vigorous individuals, resistant to pests and with higher oil yield. Much of the local cultivars belong to the Ogliarole group that took its own name according to the different geographical areas of Puglia: Bari Ogliarola, Cima di Bitonto, Paisana, Cima di Mola and Ogliarola Salento. Added to these are the Peranzana, Coratina and Cellina of Nardo.
The extra virgin olive oil of the old plants that are identified mainly in the Ogliarole group presents a yellow color with greenish hues, a perfume oil with a fruity flavor with hints of green grass freshly cut, a delicate taste with a balance between sweet and bitter of slightly spicy background.
The most fascinating thing is to think of being able to enjoy the same oil that have appreciated before the Messapi and then the Romans, with the same features and perfumes and especially coming from the plants themselves. What other plant in the world can boast these primates?
An example is given by a Roman road that crosses the plain olivetata Fasano, Ostuni and Carovigno to end with Trajan columns on the port of Brindisi, the most important port for Greece and the Orient in the world of ancient Rome. The Via Traiana was an ancient Roman road built in 109 A.D. for the will of the emperor Trajan, on a pre-existing route of the Republican era. It was a variant of the Via Appia linking Rome to Brindisi (Brundisium). Aims to please the commercial traffic of Rome with the East, the Via Traiana has favored economic development and the agricultural colonization of this part of Puglia, in fact monumental crosses olive groves, along historic farms, rock settlements, oil mills from Roman and medieval times as well as megalithic constructions. In the oil mills they were transformed into oil olives produced by monumental plants; only in the countryside of Ostuni they have been counted over 70 and close proximity to this ancient Roman road allowed the liquid gold transport to the commercial ports of Salento. Many oil mills are of Roman origin, resettled in medieval times; have largely continued to work until mid '800, when it began to realize epigeal mills more functional and productive.
The farms emerge from the foliage of the trees that are lost in the plain sight of an eye. Imposing buildings, which arose in the sixteenth century as a defense towers of the underlying mills that produced the real wealth of this land: the oil.
Puglia is its synthesis oil Mediterranean civilizations here created a particularly valuable landscape, a unique heritage in the panorama of the world's agricultural landscapes, among the few able to tell a history dating millennia through monumental trees that still produce food.
script of . Agronomist Gianfranco Ciola