Finalists for Oleotourism Contest Announced

At the third edition of the national competition, farmhouses and olive oil producers compete to propose tourism experiences in breathtaking locations.

(Photo: Gino Di Paolo)
By Paolo DeAndreis
Apr. 5, 2023 13:24 UTC
(Photo: Gino Di Paolo)

Oleotourism in Italy is increas­ingly pro­moted through sen­so­r­ial and well-being expe­ri­ences meant to link extra vir­gin olive oil to where it is pro­duced.

A set of 21 olive oil-based expe­ri­ences have been selected as final­ists at the third edi­tion of the annual oleo­tourism com­pe­ti­tion orga­nized by Città dell’Olio. The asso­ci­a­tion includes more than 400 olive-grow­ing munic­i­pal­i­ties in Italy and is spon­sored by the Ministry of the Ecological Transition.

(Oleotourism pro­duces) bet­ter and inno­v­a­tive tourism, where it becomes a means for pro­tect­ing and safe­guard­ing land­scapes while sup­port­ing the rural econ­omy.- Daniela Montalbano, Abruzzo Live Experience

According to judges, the competition’s final­ists demon­strate how the sec­tor has evolved in the last three years fol­low­ing the pas­sage of Italy’s oleo­tourism law.

Through the years, we have seen how olive oil-focused touris­tic pro­pos­als have evolved toward expe­ri­ence-based oppor­tu­ni­ties, fol­low­ing emerg­ing trends,” Roberta Garibaldi, author of the Report on Wine and Food Tourism in Italy and pres­i­dent of the competition’s jury, told Olive Oil Times.

See Also:Farms in Italy Welcome an Uptick in Agritourism as Challenging Harvest Gets Underway

For many of the final­ists, olive oil tourism inter­twines with well-being expe­ri­ences. For exam­ple, Garibaldi cited the Olivum Experience from the award-win­ning Palazzo di Varignana resort in the heart of the north­ern Emilia-Romagna region.

It offers the oppor­tu­nity to com­bine olive oil-based treat­ments with tast­ings of the company’s extra vir­gin olive oils,” Garibaldi said.

During the expe­ri­ence, a multi-course din­ner is cooked for vis­i­tors, allow­ing them to taste the dif­fer­ent extra vir­gin olive oils their host pro­duces with each dish.

We are see­ing a num­ber of oppor­tu­ni­ties for for­est and nature bathing and walks through the olive groves to be expe­ri­enced in silence, to remove one­self from the hec­tic pace of daily life, regen­er­ate and recover at one’s own pace,” Garibaldi said.

Well-being is also pro­moted through active expe­ri­ences such as trekking and bicy­cle or moun­tain bike tours,” she added.

Garibaldi fur­ther empha­sized how these expe­ri­ences allow tourists to dis­cover more of the land­scapes where olive oil is pro­duced and are often neglected by tra­di­tional touris­tic routes.

We have stud­ied tours that allow tourists to ride a bicy­cle and reach the most inter­est­ing olive-related com­mu­ni­ties,” Daniela Montalbano, a con­test final­ist in cen­tral Italy with her Abruzzo Live Experience, told Olive Oil Times.

Tourists get to know the pro­duc­ers, take part in olive oil-focused din­ners and explore olive muse­ums,” she added. By pass­ing from one loca­tion to the next in Abruzzo, they can taste extra vir­gin olive oils pro­duced from local cul­ti­vars, such as Intosso, and com­pare it to other cul­ti­vars.”

Our region, Abruzzo, has seven rural his­tor­i­cal land­scapes listed in the national reg­istry, more than Tuscany,” Montalbano con­tin­ued. Those land­scapes can be trav­eled by bicy­cle. While you ride, you are look­ing at a mon­u­ment that is part of our intan­gi­ble her­itage.”

Montalbano said oleo­tourism pro­duces bet­ter and inno­v­a­tive tourism, where it becomes a means for pro­tect­ing and safe­guard­ing land­scapes while sup­port­ing the rural econ­omy.”

Another of the final­ists is the Civic Museums Foundation in Loreto Aprutino, located in the heart of Abruzzo’s olive oil-pro­duc­ing land­scape. The his­tory sur­round­ing olive oil pro­duc­tion is cru­cial to the tourist expe­ri­ence.

One of the muse­ums we man­age is the olive oil museum,” Vincenzo de Pompeis, pres­i­dent of the foun­da­tion, told Olive Oil Times. It is a late 19th-cen­tury olive mill, a rare jewel due to a very spe­cial res­i­dent, a highly edu­cated and enlight­ened agri­cul­tural entre­pre­neur, Raffaele Baldini-Palladini.”

See Also:Officials in Castilla-La Mancha Look to Oleotourism to Boost Farmer Incomes

The mill, shaped like a cas­tle, was designed by the famous local artist Francesco Paolo Michetti. Anticipating the needs of the emerg­ing mid­dle class, Baldini-Palladini sought to enhance olive oil qual­ity by mak­ing the process more hygienic.

At the time, olive oil grinders and arti­facts were still pow­ered by ani­mals, and they usu­ally lived in the same rooms where olive oil was pro­duced,” de Pompeis said. Baldini-Palladini built dif­fer­ent liv­ing spaces for the ani­mals, which were brought into the mill to power the grinders.”


Visitors can now explore the mill, see the inno­va­tions intro­duced over many decades by the founder’s descen­dants, look at unique his­tor­i­cal pieces of fur­ni­ture designed for the mill and study the mar­ket­ing mate­ri­als pro­duced by Michetti for pro­mot­ing olive oil. Here, tourists can breath the soul of time,” de Pompeis said.

Garibaldi said many final­ists allow tourists to par­tic­i­pate in olive oil pro­duc­tion, such as tak­ing part in the olive har­vest or assist­ing with milling oper­a­tions.

Still, tast­ings, explor­ing the ter­ri­tory and get­ting in touch with the pro­duc­ers and their his­tory are not the only ele­ments of the emerg­ing oleo­touris­tic sec­tor in Italy.

Looking at all of the expe­ri­ences in the last edi­tion of the national com­pe­ti­tion, we can see a strong focus on sus­tain­abil­ity,” Garibaldi said. Small extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duc­ers are increas­ingly tak­ing part in the con­test, which also shows how a sense of respon­si­bil­ity about the her­itage of which they are cus­to­di­ans and ambas­sadors is grow­ing among them.”

Another emerg­ing trait is dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies. Among the final­ists is the mul­ti­me­dia tour set up by the Frantoio di San Giminiano, a well-known Tuscan olive oil mill,” she added. The tour is enriched by multi-touch tables and vir­tual real­ity sta­tions which pro­vide tourists a novel play­ful and engag­ing approach to learn­ing more about olive oil and its cul­ture.”

Since its foun­da­tion, Garibaldi said the com­pe­ti­tion has mapped and col­lected more than 350 expe­ri­ences in Italy, giv­ing them vis­i­bil­ity and increas­ing both oper­a­tor and tourist aware­ness on its web­site.”

She added that small olive oil pro­duc­ers look­ing to design new oleo­touris­tic oppor­tu­ni­ties should focus on three main steps.

The first is research, to know the mar­ket and the tourist and to craft expe­ri­ences capa­ble of appeal­ing to the pub­lic,” Garibaldi said.

The sec­ond is being part of the net­work; coop­er­at­ing with the pro­duc­ers and the asso­ci­a­tions in their regions, and with the food and wine touris­tic oper­a­tors, to design inno­v­a­tive expe­ri­ences and oppor­tu­ni­ties and to build co-mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives,” she added.

The third is to com­mu­ni­cate their idio­syn­crasies and expe­ri­ences through engag­ing nar­ra­tives such as sto­ry­telling,” Garibaldi con­cluded. And to mon­i­tor the results, gath­er­ing data on their vis­i­tors. This is cru­cial to under­stand what the tourists are look­ing for and to meet their needs.”

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