Cultural Events in Southern Italy Combine Music, Nature and Olive Oil

The warm Italian summer nights are being brightened by events that combine extra virgin olive oil with artistic and cultural expressions.
Olive Sonore at Frantoio D'Orazio
By Ylenia Granitto
Aug. 24, 2023 14:26 UTC

A sta­ple in the cul­ture of Mediterranean pop­u­la­tions since ancient times, olive oil is increas­ingly seen as a means to con­vey con­tem­po­rary cul­ture.

This sum­mer in Italy, sev­eral evening events were focused on min­gling between extra vir­gin olive oil and artis­tic and cul­tural expres­sions.

The com­bi­na­tion between extra vir­gin olive oil and cul­ture has the poten­tial to cre­ate enjoy­ment for body and mind.- Milena Tamborrino, orga­nizer, Olive Sonore

On the last Sunday of July, L’Olio della Poesia (The Oil of Poetry) was held in Serrano, a ham­let of the town of Carpignano Salentino and part of the cir­cuit of Italy’s vil­lages of poetry, located in the province of Lecce, Puglia.

At its 27th edi­tion, the annual event awards a poet – to men­tion a few of the win­ners over the years, Alda Merini (in 1999), Ruy Duarte de Carvalho (2006) and Adonis (2007). Its unique­ness lies in the prize of 100 liters of extra vir­gin olive oil, pro­duced by the coop­er­a­tive com­pany San Giorgio.

See Also:Art Exhibition Reflects on Xylella’s Devastating Impact

Olive oil and cul­ture are closely inter­con­nected, and this is espe­cially felt in this area that has always had olive farm­ing at its heart, which is also reflected by the land­scape shaped by count­less olive trees,” said Mauro Marino, who took over the artis­tic direc­tion of the event last year.

The award was born from this pro­found union, from which the idea of a fruit­ful exchange between olive oil and verses sprang,” he added.

The win­ner of this year and recip­i­ent of the extra vir­gin olive oil is Vittorino Curci, a poet, visual artist and sax­o­phon­ist.


Vittorino Curci (right) was awarded 100 liters of extra virgin olive oil at L’Olio della Poesia.

He has been pub­lished in var­i­ous antholo­gies, and his works have been trans­lated into English, French, German, Spanish, Greek, Romanian and Arabic. During the event, he was a guest of the band Maraba Blue Ensemble which per­formed a con­cert titled Echoes from the South of the World.”

Today, this event acquires an even more impor­tant value because our ter­ri­tory is wounded by the effects of the bac­terium Xylella fas­tidiosa,” Marino said. Over time, it has become an oppor­tu­nity to reflect on the olive oil pro­duc­tion, the safe­guard­ing of the land­scape and to recon­sider with a for­ward-look­ing vision the terms of olive farm­ing and in a broader sense of the whole agri­cul­ture.”

On August 12, Frantoio D’Orazio in Conversano, near Bari, orga­nized the event Olive Sonore (Sounding Olives), which paired extra vir­gin olive oil and jazz music.

At night, amidst the olive trees and trulli (tra­di­tional Apulian dry stone huts) sit­u­ated on the prop­erty, music ses­sions alter­nated with moments of dis­sem­i­na­tion about the high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil and its health ben­e­fits.


Olive Sonore (Sounding Olives)

The com­bi­na­tion between extra vir­gin olive oil and cul­ture has the poten­tial to cre­ate enjoy­ment for body and mind,” orga­nizer Milena Tamborrino said. This is why we opted for this infor­mal and pleas­ant but also impact­ful way to talk about the ben­e­fits of high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil while enjoy­ing great music.”

The event took place in an evoca­tive set­ting, where we expe­ri­enced very inter­est­ing moments thanks to the talks by nutri­tion­ist Gianleo Berardinelli, who has extra vir­gin olive oil at the cen­ter of his food vision, and agri-food jour­nal­ist Maurizio Pescari, who explained the value of a healthy food cul­ture, which has noth­ing to do with rigid­ity and renun­ci­a­tion, but aims at pro­mot­ing well-being and stim­u­lates the awak­en­ing of the abil­ity to choose what to eat and drink con­sciously,” she added.

The experts livened up the evening by inter­act­ing with the par­tic­i­pants – locals and tourists of all ages. There were also guided extra vir­gin olive oil tast­ings while the piano and voice of the jazz duo com­posed of Mario Rosini and Patty Lomuscio played an immer­sive sound­track.

It was an intense and ful­fill­ing expe­ri­ence,” Tamborrino said. Sparkling jazz notes flowed along a bright river of extra vir­gin olive oil, cre­at­ing a full har­mony between knowl­edge and fla­vors.”

In Puglia, other events are planned for the end of the month. La Settimana dell’Olio (The Oil Week) will be held in Vieste from August 28th to September 1st; there is a clas­si­cal music con­cert in the olive grove of the Azienda Agricola Prencipe (August 29th) and a read­ing of poems on olive oil and olive tree at the Navy League of the Apulian town (August 31st).

Moving to Calabria, in Tiriolo, the Oleificio Torchia orga­nized Vi(oli)ni e Stelle (Violins and Stars). In the olive grove located on the high hills of the vil­lage in the province of Catanzaro, high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oils met the enchant­ing music of a vio­lin under the sum­mer shoot­ing stars.


Violini e Stelle at Oleificio Torchia

According to a pop­u­lar Italian tra­di­tion, the so-called Night of San Lorenzo (Italy cel­e­brates San Lorenzo and the night of the shoot­ing stars), on August 10th, is the right moment to go out­side and look up at the sky to admire the Perseids’ meteor shower and make a wish for every falling star spot­ted.

In this enchanted night, we wanted to develop a sen­so­r­ial jour­ney with the involve­ment of all the senses,” said orga­nizer Lucia Talotta. Putting together the smell of the fields and the chirp­ing of cicadas with the sound of the notes and the fla­vors of our extra vir­gin olive oils under the starry vault, we aimed at cre­at­ing emo­tions capa­ble of becom­ing mem­o­ries that remain etched in the mind.”


Like the oil was a Proust’s madeleine, we hope that these feel­ings come back to the mind of those who par­tic­i­pated in the event every time that they will taste a great extra vir­gin olive oil,” she added.

Surrounded by the olive trees, the par­tic­i­pants enjoyed the con­tem­po­rary music of vio­lin­ist Francesca Scavelli. Then, after an extra vir­gin olive oil tast­ing, the astrophile Ettore Ruga guided them in observ­ing the sky.

With this encounter in the olive grove, we also wanted to help the par­tic­i­pants regain pos­ses­sion of a slower time and set aside the frenzy of daily life for a while,” Talotta said.

Under these olive trees, some of which are a thou­sand years old, our fam­ily has lived many moments of its social life,” she added. We con­tinue to live this space and open it to those who want to share these expe­ri­ences with us.”

On the seat of a swing hang­ing off the branch of one of the ancient trees, the phrase Hold on tight, but let your­self go” is writ­ten, which aptly describes the atti­tude behind the ini­tia­tive.

The par­tic­i­pants said that they felt a mag­i­cal atmos­phere,” Talotta said. By cre­at­ing an ideal embrace between the olive grove and this spe­cial night sky wrapped in evoca­tive notes, we also wanted to help them expe­ri­ence a sense of free­dom.”

We invited them to go beyond and live the olive grove not only as a place where fruits are har­vested but as a soul place to be lived in many other stim­u­lat­ing ways,” she added. And in this sense, we cre­ated itin­er­aries for oleo­tourism.”

During the event, they par­tic­i­pated with a keen inter­est in guided olive oil tast­ings, and we are sure that this impres­sive set­ting and atmos­phere helped them to embrace bet­ter the value of spici­ness, bit­ter­ness, fruiti­ness and all the fla­vors that make each high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil uniquely spe­cial,” Talotta con­cluded.


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