Tourism Awards in Italy Promote Industry Innovators

The second edition of a national oleotouristic competition recognized the contribution of farmhouses, museums, producers and chefs to Italian olive oil culture.
Tuscany
May. 9, 2022
Paolo DeAndreis

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Hundreds of olive-related com­pa­nies and enti­ties in Italy have taken part in the lat­est edi­tion of an oleo­tourism com­pe­ti­tion in Italy.

Farmhouses, olive oil pro­duc­ers, millers, chefs and local tour oper­a­tors have been rec­og­nized by the competition’s panel of judges.

These kinds of ini­tia­tives are cru­cial to give value to extra vir­gin olive oil, the heart of the Mediterranean diet, pro­tect it from the attack that comes from Nutri-Score and com­bat the aban­don­ment of the farm­ing lands.- Francesco Battistoni, Italian Undersecretary of Agriculture

The com­pe­ti­tion was spon­sored by the Ministry of Agriculture and orga­nized by Città dell’Olio, an asso­ci­a­tion that includes more than 400 olive-grow­ing munic­i­pal­i­ties in Italy.

It began two years ago after the Italian par­lia­ment gave the final go-ahead to the national law pro­mot­ing oleo­tourism, which is now fuel­ing new ini­tia­tives across the coun­try.

See Also:Olive Oil Tourism Venues

We had the chance to reach those who really believe in the olive oil tourism and work daily to build best prac­tices des­tined to become an exam­ple for all,” said Roberta Garibaldi, a pro­fes­sor at the University of Bergamo, pres­i­dent of the jury and sci­en­tific direc­tor of the con­test.

Oleotourism is the future of food tourism,” she added. We have the duty to reward those who want to be in it, who want to grow and be part of it and to invest more in edu­ca­tion.”

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Unaprol, the Italian olive oil pro­duc­ers’ asso­ci­a­tion and one of the initiative’s part­ners, has already con­firmed that the win­ning com­pa­nies will also be offered free courses meant to explore and enhance oleo­tourism oppor­tu­ni­ties start­ing next year.

Among this year’s win­ners was Strada dell’Olio DOP Umbria, an asso­ci­a­tion behind the Frantoi Aperti (open oil mills, in Italian) ini­tia­tive, which cel­e­brated its 25th edi­tion of the event this year and is con­sid­ered a pio­neer in oleo­tourism.

Frantoi Aperti allows tourists, con­sumers and olive oil enthu­si­asts to take guided tours of the many mills in the cen­tral Italian region of Umbria and par­tic­i­pate in tast­ings.

Tourists are also directed to other local des­ti­na­tions from the mill to dis­cover the cul­ture behind olive oil pro­duc­tion fur­ther.

Paolo Morbidoni, pres­i­dent of the asso­ci­a­tion, told Olive Oil Times how the open mills ini­tia­tive is viewed as the cus­to­dian of a thou­sand-year-old tra­di­tion that makes the mill a place of pro­duc­tion and a com­mu­nal space.”

He added: Where the moder­nity of the spaces, the tech­no­log­i­cal evo­lu­tion, does not affect the social rit­ual, the tast­ing of new oil on bread, the shar­ing of wine, the spread of a col­lec­tive cul­ture that is the her­itage of these rural areas, in which almost every fam­ily has its small olive grove and takes home its own olive oil.”

According to Morbidoni, the ini­tia­tive has trans­formed an agri­cul­tural event into a phe­nom­e­non of cul­ture and plea­sure” over time, which is inti­mately con­nected, to the point of cre­at­ing a lifestyle [where] there is a grow­ing con­scious­ness toward food which is not only good but also healthy and gen­uine both for our bod­ies and envi­ron­ment.”

In the restau­rant cat­e­gory, another award went to the Il Frantoio in Assisi, Umbria. Chef Lorenzo Cantoni told Olive Oil Times that extra vir­gin olive oil is the source of my cui­sine.”

Every year, I taste between 150 and 180 dif­fer­ent extra vir­gin olive oils pro­duced in our coun­try, and my dishes come out of those dis­cov­er­ies,” he added. Extra vir­gin olive oil is not only an ingre­di­ent of my cui­sine. It is its orig­i­nal source.”

Cantoni explained how one of the din­ing rooms of the Assisi restau­rant is con­ceived to let the vis­i­tor feel as if they are walk­ing among the olive trees in an olive grove. The design of the walls and tables was cre­ated with that goal in mind.”

Hanging on the walls are works of famous pho­tog­ra­phers that depict the olive trees where it is believed that Saint Francis of Assisi used to rest.

The com­pe­ti­tion’s jury specif­i­cally paid trib­ute to the restau­ran­t’s expe­ri­ence bap­tized as olive oil and its con­sis­ten­cies.”

A dec­li­na­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil which, thanks to the tech­nique of Chef Cantoni, assumes new shapes and con­sis­ten­cies,” the judges wrote. A cook­ing lab­o­ra­tory for olive oil, for its use, for it being an ingre­di­ent and not just sea­son­ing.”

Meanwhile, Frantoio Pruneti, from Tuscany, won in the oleoteche (olive oil shop) cat­e­gory, with its Extra Gallery Cocktail Experience.

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The Extra Gallery Cocktail Experience by Frantoio Pruneti

Conceived as a tast­ing expe­ri­ence, it allowed the judges to exper­i­ment with cock­tails using extra vir­gin olive oil as the main ingre­di­ent.

The extra vir­gin olive oil mono­va­ri­etals used by the Pruneti mixol­o­gists included Leccino, Moraiolo and Frantoio, all native to Tuscany.

The olive oil spritz, Blooily Mary and the cock­tail oliveto were pre­sented by the Pruneti experts to the judg­ing panel, accom­pa­nied by appe­tiz­ers and pick­les from a col­lec­tion of gourmet spe­cial­ties made with the company’s olive oil.

One of the rea­sons behind expe­ri­ences such as our gallery is to pro­mote olive oil cul­ture,” Katy Lapini, Pruneti’s brand man­ager, told Olive Oil Times.

Many con­sumers are not con­scious about the olive oil they con­sume,” she added. We found that by propos­ing this expe­ri­ence, we are help­ing many in the younger gen­er­a­tions explore high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil and how it dif­fers from the prod­uct that one can find in a super­mar­ket.”

The judges rec­og­nized the depth and rel­e­vance of olive oil cul­ture and his­tory in oleo­tourism with an award assigned to the Museum of Olive Oil (MOOM) in Matera, in the south­ern Basilicata region.

The judges awarded the museum for its Olive oil in the Sassi di Matera: tech­nol­ogy, qual­ity and daily life in an under­ground olive mill” expe­ri­ence, which included an unusual and evoca­tive recon­struc­tion of an ancient under­ground olive mill.

Here, the visit begins with the descrip­tion of the neigh­bor­hood, the works of recov­ery of the fac­tory and the main fea­tures of an under­ground oil mill,” the judges wrote.

It all merges with the his­tory of life in the oil mills and the legacy of the Materan artist Peppino Mitarotonda,” they added. The ceram­ics specif­i­cally cre­ated for the museum depict the dif­fer­ent stages of olive oil pro­duc­tion.”

Palazzo di Varignana, an olive oil pro­ducer and farm­house oper­a­tor near Bologna who earned three Gold Awards at the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, was also among the win­ners.

The jury rewarded Palazzo di Varignana for a wide range of olive-related offer­ings, includ­ing in-house spa treat­ments using olive oil-based prod­ucts and an extra vir­gin olive oil tast­ing guided by som­me­liers.

The panel espe­cially appre­ci­ated the olive oil treat­ment, in which the oil is brushed all over the body with slow and relax­ing move­ments, fol­lowed by a mas­sage with the mois­tur­iz­ing emul­sion olive oil.”

Commenting on the awards, Undersecretary of Agriculture Francesco Battistoni said, these kinds of ini­tia­tives are cru­cial to give value to extra vir­gin olive oil, the heart of the Mediterranean diet, pro­tect it from the attack that comes from Nutri-Score and com­bat the aban­don­ment of the farm­ing lands.”



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