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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.