The Olive Trees of Salento

Salento’s olive groves are an iconic part of the agricultural landscape of this land. Apulia is famous for the production of extra virgin olive oil, and the Salento olive groves contribute significantly to this tradition. Here are some characteristics of olive groves in the Salento region:

1. Extent and Landscape:

  • Salento’s olive groves extend over vast territories, forming a landscape that characterises the Salento countryside. Well-tended olive groves stretch to the horizon, creating a spectacle of green expanses dotted with silver olive trees.

2. Olive varieties:

  • Apulia is famous for the variety of olives cultivated. Some of the most common varieties include ‘Cellina di Nardò’. Ogliarola Salentina’, ‘Leccino’ and ‘Favolosa’. Each of these varieties contributes to the organoleptic characteristics of the oil produced.

3. Millenary Traditions:

  • Olive cultivation in Apulia has ancient roots, with many of the agricultural practices dating back thousands of years. The traditions of tending the olive trees and producing oil have been passed down from generation to generation.

4. Mediterranean climate:

  • The region’s Mediterranean climate is particularly favourable to the cultivation of olive trees. Long hot summers and mild winters contribute to producing high quality olives.

5. Lunar Landscapes and Dry Stonewalls:

  • In some areas of the Salento, olive groves are characterised by moonscapes, stony terrain and dry stone walls delimiting the fields. This ancient practice has been used to create terraces that protect the olive trees and contribute to soil conservation.

6. Agricultural Challenges:

  • Salento’s olive groves, like many olive groves in Italy, face challenges such as climate change and olive tree diseases such as Xylella fastidiosa. Farmers are adopting sustainable practices to mitigate these challenges.

7. Production of Extra Virgin Olive Oil:

  • Salento’s olive groves are the heart of extra virgin olive oil production. The harvested olives are taken to the mills, where they are cold-pressed to preserve the flavours and nutrients as much as possible.

8. Traditional Events:

  • The olive harvest is often celebrated with traditional events such as festivals and feasts. These moments represent not only oil production, but also local culture and community.

9. Oil Tourism:

  • Salento’s olive groves are also a destination for oil tourism. Many estates offer guided tours to show the oil production process and allow visitors to taste high quality oils.

Salento’s olive groves represent a valuable cultural and agricultural heritage for Apulia, contributing to the creation of renowned extra virgin olive oils and preserving millenary traditions related to olive cultivation.