Tourists of All Ages Are Heading to Groves and Mills This Summer

Whether it is dining in a grove, participating in the harvest or simply tasting oils, tourists are escaping the cities to spend summer holidays among olives.

Tourists learn how extra virgin olive oil is produced at Petrini's mill..
By Paolo DeAndreis
Jul. 6, 2023 14:36 UTC
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Tourists learn how extra virgin olive oil is produced at Petrini's mill..

Olive oil-related tourism in Italy is grow­ing sub­stan­tially, with tourists increas­ingly inter­ested in olive-related on-site expe­ri­ences.

The farmer asso­ci­a­tion Coldiretti esti­mated that in the sum­mer of 2023, more than one-third of the tourism expen­di­tures in Italy would go to restau­rants, pizze­rias, food fairs and farm­houses.

The dif­fer­ence we see in oleo­tourism when com­pared to tra­di­tional tourism is that peo­ple do not only want to be spec­ta­tors. They want to take part in an expe­ri­ence.- Francesca Petrini, owner, Fattoria Petrini

A sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the expected €15 bil­lion food-related pur­chases will directly involve oleo­tourism and olive-related expe­ri­ences.

According to recently pub­lished research from Roberta Garibaldi, pres­i­dent of the Italian Wine and Food Tourism Association, oleo­tourism is boom­ing.

See Also:Umbrian Villages Steeped in Olive Oil Culture Promote New Tourism Initiative

Garibaldi’s research shows that 72 per­cent of those who intend to visit an olive mill plan to pur­chase a qual­ity prod­uct rea­son­ably priced.

That is 5 per­cent less than what was reported before the onset of the Covid-19 pan­demic.

On the other hand, the research shows that up to 70 per­cent of tourists are now attracted by expe­ri­ences of olive food pair­ings and oppor­tu­ni­ties for tast­ing olive oils accom­pa­nied by locally-pro­duced food spe­cial­ties.

According to the research, 59 per­cent of tourists are now inter­ested in meet­ing and talk­ing with the olive oil pro­duc­ers to learn more about their work, the tra­di­tion behind the prod­uct and the ter­ri­tory it comes from.

That is a 10 per­cent increase com­pared to 2019 pre-Covid” data. Before Covid-19, I was often asked around for talks about olive oil and olive oil tast­ings,” Francesca Petrini, an organic pro­ducer in the Marche region of cen­tral Italy and owner of Fattoria Petrini, told Olive Oil Times.

Today, tourists and oth­ers reach out for this knowl­edge, they scour the area look­ing for these expe­ri­ences. It is not me going out, it is them com­ing in,” she added.

The dif­fer­ence between before and after the pan­demic emer­gency is huge,” Petrini con­tin­ued. I think it has mainly to do with the fact that dur­ing that period, only lim­ited touris­tic oppor­tu­ni­ties were allowed. So we all longed for open spaces to visit in small groups.”

Some in the sec­tor believe that due to this con­fine­ment, a new trend was estab­lished based on qual­ity, health and new oppor­tu­ni­ties.

According to Garibaldi’s obser­va­tory, oleotourism’s pop­u­lar­ity is grow­ing through­out Italy, espe­cially in regions where local author­i­ties have approved reg­u­la­tions to spur its growth. The Marche regional author­i­ties have just approved one of their own.

Petrini, a pro­fes­sional olive oil taster and part of the offi­cial Marche regional panel, explained that many farm vis­i­tors ask how to directly con­tact the pro­ducer.

Today, we are see­ing a grow­ing num­ber of tourists reach­ing the farms and the mills with the goal of see­ing how the olive oil pro­duc­tion process unfolds, how the pro­duc­tion chain works,” Petrini explained.

Once they under­stand how the process works, what it implies and how it is done, it is for them much eas­ier to under­stand the true value of olive oil,” Petrini said.

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When food tourists can directly see the pro­duc­tion processes and see how food is pro­duced with care and how much atten­tion is given to recy­cling and reduc­ing the envi­ron­men­tal impact, they are then ready to taste a qual­ity prod­uct and acknowl­edge its value,” Mauro Rosati, gen­eral direc­tor of the Qualivita Foundation, told Olive Oil Times.

The Petrini farm also orga­nizes edu­ca­tional days, which allow vis­i­tors to under­stand the dif­fer­ence between qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil and the other olive oil grades.

Oleotourism

Oleotourism, also known as olive tourism or olive oil tourism, is a form of spe­cial­ized tourism that focuses on the explo­ration, edu­ca­tion, and pro­mo­tion of olive oil pro­duc­tion and its asso­ci­ated cul­tural her­itage. It involves vis­it­ing olive groves, olive oil mills, and related facil­i­ties to learn about the cul­ti­va­tion, har­vest­ing, pro­cess­ing, and tast­ing of olives and olive oil.

Oleotourism offers vis­i­tors an immer­sive expe­ri­ence in the world of olive oil, pro­vid­ing insights into the tra­di­tions, his­tory, and tech­niques involved in olive oil pro­duc­tion. Tourists can par­tic­i­pate in var­i­ous activ­i­ties such as olive pick­ing, olive oil tast­ing ses­sions, cook­ing classes that incor­po­rate olive oil, and guided tours of olive oil mills.

The pri­mary goal of oleo­tourism is to cre­ate aware­ness and appre­ci­a­tion for olive oil, its pro­duc­tion process, and its sig­nif­i­cance in the local econ­omy and cul­ture. It aims to pro­mote sus­tain­able agri­cul­tural prac­tices, sup­port local farm­ers and pro­duc­ers, and high­light the health and culi­nary ben­e­fits of olive oil.

Oleotourism des­ti­na­tions are often located in regions known for their olive oil pro­duc­tion, such as Mediterranean coun­tries like Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey. However, the con­cept is not lim­ited to these regions, and olive oil enthu­si­asts from around the world can explore and enjoy the unique expe­ri­ences offered by oleo­tourism.

That is a por­tion of our lessons. We also intro­duce tourists to the olive-rich his­tory of our land, which is the heart of a cen­tury-old tra­di­tion of olive oil mak­ing in the Marche region,” Petrini noted.

Apart from tast­ings and food pair­ings, Petrini’s vis­i­tors are encour­aged to visit the local olive museum and its 16th-cen­tury his­toric olive oil mill and par­tic­i­pate in the other olive-related ini­tia­tives offered by the ter­ri­tory.

The part­ner­ship among farms and farm­houses, pri­vate and pub­lic insti­tu­tions and orga­ni­za­tions is cru­cial for the devel­op­ment of oleo­tourism,” Petrini said. Connecting the ter­ri­to­ries means to give value to the sin­gle projects as well as to the ter­ri­to­ries them­selves, in terms of land­scape, mon­u­men­tal and artis­tic her­itage.”

The dif­fer­ence we see in oleo­tourism when com­pared to tra­di­tional tourism is that peo­ple do not only want to be spec­ta­tors. They want to take part in an expe­ri­ence,” she added. They are look­ing to be enriched by that, to take home with them some­thing of value such as new knowl­edge and new skills.”

Garibaldi’s research shows that 66 per­cent of tourists are also inter­ested in explor­ing how olive farm­ers used to live and pro­duce, vis­it­ing his­tor­i­cal farm­houses and under­stand­ing the link between such rural life and olive oil pro­duc­tion.

Walks through olive groves, explor­ing ancient mills and vis­it­ing olive muse­ums con­sti­tute very attrac­tive parts of the tourist expe­ri­ence, even more for tourists over 45 years of age.

Younger tourists are keenly inter­ested in on-site expe­ri­ences such as can­dle­light din­ners in the olive groves and par­tic­i­pat­ing in the har­vest.

If we do this well, through­out the ter­ri­to­ries, with an educa­tive approach, we can def­i­nitely recover a greater abil­ity to pro­mote the local excel­len­cies and their unique char­ac­ter­is­tics,” Rosati con­cluded.



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