“You feel drawn toward an olive tree because of its down-to-earth strength and tranquillity that radiate from it, due to its slow growth, due to its survival skill through continuous renewal from the trunk, and due to its age, which makes you feel great wisdom.”
The encounter with Apulia’s millennia-old olive trees, the so-called “giants of the Mediterranean”, has something magical. They cover the slopes of the Murge Plateau with endless silvery green forests. With its veins of white limestone and its red earth, the Murge stretches as far as the sea, which creates a deep blue background to an absolutely stunning view.
"Since ancient times, olive trees have been more than just plants. Their oil stands for spiritual energy and light owing to its use as lamp oil, for purification and healing due to its use in body care and medicine, for fertility and longevity because of its resistance and survival skill, and for peace and victory on account of its mythological meaning."
After the Bronze Age (1,200 BC) the people called Messapii lived in Apulia. Most of them lived in the southern part of Apulia - the area around today’s cities Taranto, Brindisi and Lecce. The Messapii were a people of farmers and shepherds, also renowned as skilful horse breeders, tenacious fighters and archers.
With 51% of the national production, the Apulia Region is currently the leading producer of extra virgin olive oil. With approximately 60 million trees, Apulia has the highest concentration of multimillennial olive trees in the world (about 10% of the total). Apulia's olive groves indeed represent one of the oldest traditional tree landscapes of the Mediterranean and form a complex system in which cultural history, nature and agriculture have been harmoniously interwoven with each other over the millennia.
"Describing the Apulian landscape is like painting a picture. The intense colour contrasts of dark red earth, blue sea and sky, whitewashed houses and endless green olive groves are as extreme as the people themselves."
Columella already called for the pickers to collect the olives at the time of 'invaiatura' (veraison, ripening) as he considered this was the optimum time to produce oleum viride, i.e. green oil. It was specified that the olives should be picked separately from the twig by hand. The olives in the treetops that could not be grasped were to be struck using a long flexible stick (ractriai in Greek), while being careful not to damage the olives.
First the olives are weighed in the oil-press, then cleaned free from leaves and stalks, and after that washed. Depending on the type of oil - Millennium, Primitivo or Evolution - our olives are crushed according to ancient traditional methods, with millstones. The resultant dark fruit paste is naturally decanted and removed by hand (Millennium) or pressed out through raffia mats or fiscoli (Primitivo), or else crushed in modern extraction mills after which the oil-water mixture is separated from the solid substances in a 'horizontal decanter' (Evolution). The stones are always ground with the olives, as they contain a useful preserving agent and determine taste as well. In both methods the outflowing liquid still consists of an oil-water mixture, which is only separated into oil and bitter juice during the natural decantation (Millennium) or in the separator by centrifugation (Primitivo and Evolution).
"Mild olives do not exist, olives are bitter and extremely sharp. That is why oil from freshly picked olives always has a sharp taste, as a result of its phenolic anti-oxidant content. Moreover, while we keep the olive oil fresh, these major ingredients also keep us fresh!"
ORO MESSAPICO is a registered trade mark under which we commercialise three different olive oils. The processes we use for their manufacture are varied, so as to deliberately emphasize the characteristics of each process chosen for the corresponding oil. In this way there is an oil to suit everyone’s palate. Which oil someone likes best is a very personal choice. In order to get a better understanding of it, we organise oil tasting sessions after each harvest. This helps you to find the right oil among our three different olive oils.
ORO MESSAPICO MILLENIUM s obtained exclusively from more than thousand-year-old trees and pays tribute to the very old olive trees of Apulia and to the generations of olive growers who have been preserving and maintaining these monuments. Therefore, we felt it was important to manufacture this oil following the thousand year old traditions. The harvest, to begin with, is a lot more laborious because the old trees are very large. We pick the olives standing on ladders or on a lifting platform, only by hand or with rakes. After being harvested, the olives are sorted by hand and ground in the stone mill. The resultant olive paste is pressed out in the oil press. Only the oil that comes to the surface within the first ten minutes is immediately skimmed off manually with flat ladles, then another three or four times naturally decanted until it is clear and slightly cloudy. By proceeding in this way, the oil molecules do not suffer any mechanical stress or modification at all. This very costly method of manufacture results in an exceptional oil with a very distinctive, fruity flavour. According to true connoisseurs, it is one of the finest olive oils. We recommend using it exclusively raw, with equally exceptional dishes like noble fish, carpaccio of fish and meat, sushi, etc.
How about taking a dive into the secrets of the Apulian kitchen, actively participating in an olive harvest and discovering by the fireside at a traditional oil tasting what a really good olive oil consists of? Just come to Apulia and let yourself be carried away by the unique fragrances, flavours and colours of this wonderful region.
"Anyone who has observed the patience, love and respect with which the fruit of the olive tree is collected, will understand that in some regions it is believed the harvest volume depends on the moral and inner attitude of the pickers."
The Giardini di Marzo olive groves, situated between Ceglie Messapica and Francavilla Fontana near Brindisi, are at the stage of conversion to organic farming and extend with approximately 170 trees over the southeast foothills of the Murge at 200 metres above sea level, between Valle d'Itria and Salento as well as between the Adriatic and Ionian seas. This privileged location provides constant airstream throughout the year, which is of benefit to the olives. The main olive varieties are Ogliarola, Cellina di Nardò, Cornale, but there are also rather rare varieties such as Biancolilla and wild olives from the Oleastro tree.
The certified organic olive groves of the Masseria Galante in Ceglie Messapica near Brindisi, with approximately 3,500 trees (partly millenary) at 310 metres above sea level, extend over the rolling hillsides of Valle d'Itria (Trulli Valley). They are a wonderful example of olive groves laid out almost like a park, surrounded by the maquis and small woods of oak trees, which creates a healthy biodiversity. The climatic conditions with cool nights allow for later harvesting here, as the invaiatura of the olives normally does not start until the beginning of November. The main olive varieties are Ogliarola, Cellina di Nardò, Cornale.
The certified organic olive groves of the Antica Masseria Brancati with approximately 2,000 trees are situated near Ostuni, Brindisi at only 40 metres above sea level on the plateau of Apulia's eldest olive trees, called the 'Piana degli ulivi millenari'. In this tree population there are some specimens of several thousand years old. We produce a limited quantity of our Oro Messapico Millennium oil from these trees. The main olive varieties are Cima di Melfi, Cellina di Nardò, Coratina and Ogliarola. The Masseria Brancati is even the owner of an underground oil-mill that goes back to Messapian-Roman times, testifying that already 3,000 years ago olive oil was produced in Apulia.