Monday, June 1, 2015

Castiglion Fiorentino: Olive Country

After a 4-mile hike through Castiglion Fiorentino we arrived at “Mulino Vecchio del Cilone,” a bed and breakfast on an organic (or biological, as Italians call it) farm where we made homemade bread and pizza with Giovanna and Romano.  Our entirely made-from-scratch lunch of pizza and wine was a great way to experience the Slow Food movement in Italy after we witnessed first hand how prevalent it is here.

Throughout Castiglion Fiorentino - especially further into the countryside as we saw on our walk - many Italians have gardens for home use. Here, they all grow olive plants, or Olea europaea, for personal wine and olive oil making. Rosella, our Italian teacher, explained how last year was a bad olive season. As a result, there is not very much Tuscan olive oil available.

Hopefully, this year will be a good harvest. We saw numerous olive fruits while they were still young, smaller than the size of a pea. Olives are a stone fruit, hence the pit like peaches and cherries, which also grow in the region. Some houses had rows and rows of olive trees trellised in a T-shape making beautiful columns in the landscape. Rosella also explained how Italians have started to prune the olive trees to be bare in the center for better circulation so to not get struck by disease that likes to spread in humid areas, and for easier harvesting because the fruits are better in reach.

When we arrived at Giovanna and Romano’s home, it was no surprise that they, too, had rows of olive trees. We were greeted with homemade olive oil and bread. Unfortunately, they weren’t selling the oil because of the previous bad season and small batch. However, at lunch, they served their homemade wine, “Val di Chio” made with sangiovese and canaiolo grapes from their property. Sangiovese and Canaiolo grapes, and the resulting wine, are popular vines in the Tuscan region. The wine was delicious and available for guests of the B&B to purchase.


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