Right in the center of Italy, with no coastline or view to the sea, Umbria is also known as Italy’s “green heart” due to the many olive trees that grow on its hills and slopes.
Many of the best Italian extra virgin olive oils originate here, in one of the five subareas of the Umbria Pdo: Colli Amerini, Colli Orvietani, Colli Martani, Colli del Trasimeno and Colli Assisi-Spoleto. This is not a huge area, but very rich indeed in history, art and nature.
Here one can find old and picturesque villages such as Spello or Trevi, artistic and religious centers such as Todi and Assisi and beautiful lakes surrounded by vineyards and olive groves.
Moraiolo is the main cultivar, associated with Frantoio and Leccino or with lesser, local varieties such as Dolce Agogia and San Felice. Wine and oil constitute major elements Umbria’s economy along with tourism, and the three often go together.
Olive oil-related tourism in Umbria is probably more developed and better organized than in some other parts of Italy, and the annual event Frantoi Aperti, or “open mills,” is good evidence of that, as well as the Strada dell’Olio dell’Umbria (Umbria’s olive Oil road) organization.
This year again, from 1 to 30 November, the region’s main mills will open their doors to the public to greet tourists, costumers and olive oil enthusiasts. This will be the 17th edition of the initiative, organized by the mountain community of Monti Martani Serano and Subasio in collaboration with the Strada dell’Olio.
The aim is to promote local extra virgin olive oils and the region’s rural destinations. The 35 mills will host guided tours and tastings, but other venues will host events related to the olive oil theme: olive groves, country houses, historic villages and their beautiful squares, theaters and trattorias will all be involved in this local rural celebration.
The program is very rich, and constantly growing: those who will visit Umbria in November will have the chance to take advantage of free guided tours of the participant cities and villages, music concerts, cooking classes, horse ridings, trekking through the olive groves and witnessing the olive harvests. Every visit at a mill will end with a tasting of freshly milled oil with a slice of warm, fragrant bread, following the local tradition of bruschetta.
Visitors will discover typical products of Umbria such as the delicious Castelluccio lentils and the excellent Umbrian wines, thanks to the collaboration with the Consortium of Castelluccio Lentils PGI and the Wine Tourism Movement of Umbria.
A free shuttle service from the main villages to the mills will be available.
During Frantoi Aperti, the Strada dell’Olio will suggest a selection of rural hotels and country houses — “Le Dimore dell’Umbria Dop” — where tourists will receive a complimentary bottle of freshly-milled local PDO extra virgin olive oil.