The oil production from Riviera dei Fiori is derived from one type of olive cultivar. The olive groves, found at an altitude between sea level and 600 metres, give a good yeald, starting in November and continuing throughout winter. In the better seasons, olives as late as April and May. The cultivar produces a fruit which, when mature, is a purply black colour and weighs, on average, around 2 grams. In the Riviera dei Fiori, the olives are preserved in brine to be used for table consumption and for the preparation of some Ligurian dishes such as “Sardenaira” (a local pizza slice – translator’s note), Focaccia, Liguria style rabbit, olive paste and numerous others, and naturally it is also made into traditional top quality oil. This oil has a golden light straw yellow colour with pleasant fruity taste in freshly squeezed extra virgin oils, delicate with a hint of sweetness. Its unique and smooth taste makes it an ideal accompaniment to Mediterranean and fish dishes. Extra-virgin olive oil of the Taggiasca variety is a “good”, saturated and necessary fat, and it ensures vitamin absorption. It is highly digestible and is rich in “good” cholesterol, thus it protects against atherosclerosis. This oil must be kept at a stable temperature, away from light and humidity: unlike wine, oil doesn’t improve with age. Our extra virgin olive oil keeps for a long time, but no longer than two years even when kept under optimal conditions.
A HISTORY OF TAGGIASCA OLIVE GROWING
Nowadays Western Liguria appears as a veritable “forest of olives” growing in all the valleys at low to medium altitude, the result of gigantic efforts to turn steep land into terraced fields.
Ligurian have known the olive tree since ancient times and historical sources lead us to believe that the early cultivation may be due to their relationship with Greeks in Marseille (600 to 400 B.C.e.) and later Roman colonization, particularly in Eastern Ligurian. During the Early Middle Ages ther emerged a Western Ligurian cultivar called “Taggiasca”. However, the olive tree was of so little importance for such a long time in comparison to other crops such as grapes, fruit, or other sown plants, that it hardly got a mention even in the town’s Statutes. After the Fourteenth century, however, due to adverse climatic and economic conditions, the planting of olive trees began in earnest, gaining ground from grapes and even woods and reaching its greatest expansion in the Ninenteenth century. Dozens of oil presses “a sangue” (blood powered, that is, driven by animals) and water powered were built. Olives were exploited every way, even the dregs, to produce oil for lamps and soap, while sansa (what is left after treatment in the oil press) makes an excellent fluel. The locals developed great knowledge and commercial skills related to olive trees and olive oil, achieving a cultural dimension which has reached the rest of the world.