Olio Capitale in Trieste, which wrapped up its ninth edition last week, showed that even after the worst of harvests Italian olive oil shines.

The extra virgin olive oil event in Trieste recorded another success despite the difficult year. It now passes the baton to the major event in Milan, where the competition’s prizes will be awarded

Senator Colomba Mongiello[/callout]The 9th edition of Olio Capitale closed on the 10 March 2015 with satisfying figures, the event organizers said.

12,000 people visited Trieste’s Stazione Marittima — the beautiful location on the city’s harbour — during the three days of the exhibition. There were 3,000 participants at the prestigious Scuola di Cucina and over 250 extra virgin olive oil producers hailing from Spain, Greece, and Croatia and every region of Italy, continuing the trend of strong growth for Italy’s only fair dedicated to extra virgin olive oils.

This year, the national Città dell’Olio association played an important role in the fair’s success bringing to Trieste not only the oils from 362 towns and 18 regions it represents, but many other typical products and recipes showcasing the incredible food heritage of Italy, from the intensely scented citrus from Sicily to traditional Matera’s bread.

This was intended as a homage and a cross-reference to this year’s biggest event to be held in Italy, the Milan Expo 2015, dedicated to food and healthy nourishment, which will open its doors on May 1.

“This has truly been an edition to remember for the Città dell’Olio. Very high participation, a response bearing witness to the pride of our Città dell’Olio producers, who despite the terrible year, have confirmed the trust they have in this major international showcase,” said Enrico Lupi, president of the Associazione Nazionale Città dell’Olio. “We are very much encouraged, spurred on to create ever more occasions for the appreciation and promotion of Italy’s excellent extra virgin olive oils.”

The Trieste’s event confirmed that quality can still be achieved or even go above expectations even in such difficult years as it was 2014. Among the 15 finalists of the Olio Capitale competition held on the last day of the event, there were excellent products mainly coming from Southern Italy: Apulia, Sicily, Campania and Sardinia, and the three final winners came from Sicily (Nocellara dell’Etna by Scammacca del Murgo won for Light Fruity) and from Apulia (Patràun by Leone Sabino and Tenuta Torre di Mossa by De Carlo respectively won for Medium and Light Fruity).

Among products from beyond Italy, Basilippo Gourmet by the Spanish Oleomorillo S.L and the Mate Timbro Istriano by the Croatian Agrofin D.O.O. were finalists for the Light and Medium Fruity. The Croatian extra virgin received the professional panel’s Special Mention while the Apulian extra virgin by Le Tre Colonne received the consumers panel’s mention and the Sicilian Frantoi Cutrera received the restaurateurs’ nod.

“Relative to what we had been expecting, quality has been far higher,” noted Carlotta Pasetto, the Olio Capitale Competition’s coordinator. “Of course, compared to last year the differences between the various types of oil are less marked, especially in terms of fruitiness and vegetal tones,” she said, “but this is an inevitable consequence of the difficult year we have had. The 15 selected finalists have produced excellent oils.”

International business meetings between producers and buyers, hailing from the USA, Japan, Germany, Brazil, Denmark and many other countries, were another key to success. “The strong point of this trade fair lies in its specialisation. Here and nowhere else have I been able to find such an enormous variety of quality olive oils, and with very distinct characteristics,” commented Paolo Orsolini, president of Orso Italian Speciality Foods, which imports Made in Italy products to markets in Florida.

The exhibit’s format is becoming an international model, and a worldwide showcase for quality Italian olive oil according to Antonio Paoletti, president of Trieste’s Chamber of Commerce, a statement which was also confirmed by Colomba Mongiello, a Member of Congress who has devoted a large part of her political commitment to the extra virgin sector. “This is a very important international showcase,” noted Mongiello. “We plan to assist Olio Capitale in the international promotion of the Made in Italy agro-industry and extra virgin oils. This starts out from Friuli Venezia Giulia and travels throughout the world, letting people learn about Italian olive-growing, the related culture, and the culture of healthy eating.”

“In this difficult year, Olio Capitale has continued to grow: it is extraordinary to have succeeded in attracting 250 exhibitors and 12,000 visitors, considerable numbers for a niche fair; shifting the opening day has proved a successful strategy, with Monday now dedicated to restaurateurs and connoisseurs who appreciated having more time for selecting their preferred oils,” Paoletti commented.

“I am also delighted to inform you that quality extra virgin oil and Olio Capitale will soon have a further top-level international showcase: Hon. Mongiello, vice-president of the Parliament’s Antifraud Committee and member of the Agriculture Committee, is working to ensure that there will be one day at the Expo di Milano dedicated to Olio Capitale and to the excellence of Italian extra virgin olive oil, during which the winners of our Competition will be awarded their prizes.”

Olio Capitale thus passes the baton to Milan’s Expo, and next year’s 10th edition is already planned March 5-8, 2016.

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