Franco Amadeo, President of the Imperia Chamber of Commerce and Paolo Strescino, Mayor of Imperia at the Ribbon Cutting for the OliOliva Festival

Imperia, a seaside city in Liguria, hosted the Mediterranean Diet Forum between 17 and 19 November.  The Mediterranean Diet received Intangible Heritage status from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on 17 November 2010, and this was its first anniversary. The Forum was sponsored by the Imperia Chamber of Commerce and by the International Olive Council. Olivolio, a local Imperia festival opened on 18 November and so Imperia was humming with olive related events.

The streets were crowded with vendors selling freshly extracted olive oil, often from the delicately flavored Taggiasca olive; whole olives in brine; olive paste, kitchen implements made of olive wood; olive bathing supplies and much more.

imperia-hosts-mediterranean-diet-forum-olioliva-festival-olio-carli--van-used-for-home-delivery-of-olive-oil--piazza-farnese-romeOlio Carli van used for home delivery of olive oil | Piazza Farnese, Rome

Olive culture is deeply embedded in Imperia: the National Organization of Olive Oil Tasters, now present in other countries, was founded here 1983; and Olio Carli, a direct sales olive oil company founded in 1911, with its 270 employees, is the city’s largest employer. Carli has an interesting didactic museum on olive oil next to their factory buildings with a range of fascinating objects, from ancient vessels for holding oil to centuries old olive presses.

The fundamental element of the Mediterranean Diet is olive oil and much of the conference was devoted to olives. Forum participants first met in May, when they separated into working groups, each cluster tasked with different areas of inquiry which they would report back on in November.

Subjects included the landscape value of olive groves and the preservation of old varieties of olives. Shimon Lavee participated in this last working group, and an interview with the eminent Professor of Plant Science will follow shortly.

In May the organization set about drafting a treaty for the founding of Re.C.O.Med, known in English as the Network of Mediterranean Olive Oil Towns. It is the outgrowth of the Italian organization Città dell’Olio, a group of about 350 towns that produce olive oil, which have joined together to promote sales through fairs and tourism.

imperia-hosts-mediterranean-diet-forum-olioliva-festival-enrico-lupi--officiator-at-the-mediterranean-diet-forum-president-of-citta-dellolio-and-vice-president-of-imperias-chamber-of-commerceEnrico Lupi, officiator at the Mediterranean Diet Forum, President of Città dell’Olio and Vice President of Imperia’s Chamber of Commerce

Enrico Lupi, President of the Città dell’Olio and second in command at the Imperia Chamber of Commerce, was the driving force behind the initiative, and also an entertaining and skilled host for the Forum. One of the high points of this conference was the ratification of the Re.C.O.Med treaty by all the Mediterranean countries.

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