From extraordinary lansdscapes come extraordinary products, especially if we are talking about extra virgin olive oil. This is the thesis that underlies Extrascape, the new international competition which awards both extra virgin olive oils and the landscapes from which they were born.
Actually Extrascape is something that goes beyond a normal competition. It was launched by Italian producer Francesco Travaglini and food, wine and tourism expert Michele Vitale – both based in Molise, one of the most rural among Italian regions – with the collaboration of local authorithies (Sprint Molise, a regional agency for international development, and Regione Molise), Italian universities (La Sapienza University of Rome, the Tuscia University and the Molise University), and in partnership with Olive Oil Times.
Their aim is to promote olive oil culture worldwide, creating ties for experts and producers from different countries, just as they already made at a local level with Molisextra (the Molisan extra virgin olive oil producers’ association) and Agrycult – an online network for Italian independent farmers.
They picked out as a key element the olive trees themselves and the landscape where they grow, as they are an integral part of the environment in many Italian regions, in the whole Mediterranean area and in many countries throughout the world.
So, they decided to award not only the best extra virgin olive oil, but also the landscape. Do not imagine beautiful images to be put on postcards, though (even if, of course, sometimes they are). The word landscape, in this case, has a wider meaning: Imagine environmental care, harmony with the surroundings, respectful farming techniques — a well-conceived mix of ethics, sustainability, historical heritage and pure beauty, without failing to mention taste, as “a well growth land can only produce good fruits.”
An international jury will evaluate the extra virgin olive oils which will have been already selected as not defective by the professional tasters in the panel of Larino, on the base of the methods of the International Olive Council. But the finalists will face an additional evaluation by a professional jury set up by the universities who will judge the quality of the landscapes through pictures and a prepared evaluation form with all the necessary information.
The final assessment – both individual and comparative – will be processed by a mixed jury made up of professional tasters, journalists, disciplinary experts, agronomists, economists and landscape architects, who will jointly evaluate oils and their landscapes. The results will show that a well-mantained land is the best way to produce a good olive oil, and that it can also become a further income source as a tourist attraction.
As a matter of fact, just to underline the deep link between olive tree cultivation and the territory and its potential importance in the tourist circuits, the Extrascape award ceremony will take place in the context of a wider event Sosta al Tratturo, held in San Martino in Pensilis, a pitoresque village in the Molise countryside, on the same days (29th April – 1st May) of the historical event of the Carrese.
Sosta al Tratturo Carrese
But Extrascape’s borders are definetly broader. The Italian event – wich will include also a congress, workshops and a photographic contest – will only be the first step in an international series of meetings and events. One will soon take place in the U.S., involving the prestigious Tony Mantuano‘s La Spiaggia restaurant in Chicago, and Olive Oil Times as a main partner of the initiative.
Producers interested in entering the competition can read the regulations here.