First OlivitalyMed Festival Hailed as Success in Cilento

The event, which spotlighted extra virgin olive oil in Campania and Italy, also hosted conferences on cooking, health, tourism and science.
The stands of producers at OlivitalyMed. (Photo: Safari Studio Creativo)
By Ylenia Granitto
May. 23, 2024 00:34 UTC

Organizers and atten­dees have hailed the pre­mier OlivitalyMed fes­ti­val as a suc­cess.

Held from May 4th to 6th at the thou­sand-year-old Castle of Rocca Cilento in Campania, the event brought together pro­duc­ers, pol­i­cy­mak­ers and enthu­si­asts for tast­ings, con­fer­ences and dis­cus­sion.

For the national play­ers, (OlivitalyMed) was a moment of dis­cus­sion to define the cur­rent crit­i­cal issues and draw a path towards the future of extra vir­gin olive oil.- Nicolangelo Marsicani, olive miller and event orga­nizer

It is a suc­cess that makes us proud and the real­iza­tion of his dream to estab­lish an event in Cilento that demon­strates the thou­sands of facets of extra vir­gin olive oil,” said the Sgueglia fam­ily, the venue’s owner and orga­nizer. 

The event was the brain­child of the late Stefano Sgueglia. He had imag­ined a trans­ver­sal pro­gram capa­ble of sat­is­fy­ing both the expec­ta­tions of pro­fes­sion­als and the curios­ity of new­com­ers,” the fam­ily said. Indeed, dur­ing these three days, the many vis­i­tors have shown great inter­est and crowded the rooms and spaces of the cas­tle.”

See Also:Festivals and Conferences Build Momentum for Pakistani Olive Oil Sector

Olive oil enthu­si­asts and indus­try experts in atten­dance had the oppor­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in free and guided tast­ings and con­fer­ences about health, cook­ing and sci­ence. 

It was no coin­ci­dence that Cilento was the cho­sen venue for OlivitalyMed. The south­ern part of the province of Salerno is the birth­place of the study that led to the sci­en­tific val­i­da­tion of the Mediterranean diet

In 1962, Ancel Keys and his team of researchers set­tled in Pioppi, where they started research­ing for the Seven Countries Study to inves­ti­gate the cor­re­la­tion between diet, lifestyle and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.

This is an impor­tant ini­tia­tive for this area, which is devoted to the pro­duc­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil and where the foun­da­tions of the Mediterranean diet were laid down over 40 years ago,” said Giuseppe Coccorullo, the pres­i­dent of the Cilento, Vallo di Diano and Alburni National Park author­ity.

The olive tree is a fun­da­men­tal plant of our park, where the dif­fer­ent olive vari­eties enrich the local bio­di­ver­sity,” he added. The Mediterranean diet is not only a world her­itage but an asset for the local economies; it is not just a dietary pat­tern but a lifestyle, which finds its ideal set­ting in this envi­ron­ment, where out­door activ­i­ties and sports can be prac­ticed safely and health­ily.”

During the fes­ti­val, a spa­cious hall hosted the stands of extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duc­ers from Campania. At the same time, another large area was ded­i­cated to pro­duc­ers from other Italian regions and some of the Mediterranean Diet Emblematic Communities. 

In these spaces, vis­i­tors and buy­ers could talk with pro­duc­ers and enjoy a free tast­ing of their prod­ucts.

In the out­door areas, the atten­dees found the stands of sev­eral local food arti­sans, offer­ing seafood and plant-based dishes, pas­try and bak­ery prod­ucts, gelato and cock­tails paired with the best extra vir­gin olive oils from Cilento.

Among them was the pizza maker Cristian Santomauro, one of the ambas­sadors of the Mediterranean diet, who pre­pared Ammaccata, a typ­i­cal pizza baked in a wood-burn­ing oven. 


Cristian Santomauro prepares Ammaccata during the OlivitalyMed festival at Castello di Rocca. (Photo: Ylenia Granitto)

Ammaccata is a reg­is­tered trade­mark in the national list of Traditional Agri-food Products, which have such a lim­ited dif­fu­sion that they are not eli­gi­ble for the European Union Protected Designation of Origin and Protected Geographical Indication cer­ti­fi­ca­tions but still offer a qual­ity guar­an­tee.

This is an ancient recipe that I have learned from my grand­mother, Teresa,” Santomauro said. Unlike pizza, it is not round but oval. Its com­po­si­tion includes three ancient grains: Saragolla durum wheat and a mix of Risciola and Carosella soft wheat.”

Santomauro kneads the dough by hand in a large wooden trough before top­ping it with dif­fer­ent ingre­di­ents. 


Every type of Ammaccata is paired with an extra vir­gin olive oil,” he said. Today, I am prepar­ing the clas­sic’ ver­sion with cooked tomato sauce, moun­tain oregano, grated aged Cilento caciori­cotta cheese and a Rotondella mono­va­ri­etal.” 

There are two more ver­sions, one called Schietta’ (Italian for out­spo­ken), which I pre­pare with gar­lic, oregano, Menaica anchovies and a mono­va­ri­etal of Salella, and one closed like a cal­zone, stuffed with wild veg­eta­bles cooked with a Cilento PDO extra vir­gin olive oil,” he added. To this stuff­ing, accord­ing to the sea­son, I add Menaica anchovies, cracked Salella olives or Cilento caciori­cotta, all Slow Food Presidia.”

The infor­ma­tive seg­ment of OlivitalyMed began with a dis­cus­sion of har­mony and extra vir­gin olive oil led by con­duc­tor Giuseppe Vessicchio and nutri­tional sci­ence spe­cial­ist Michele Scognamiglio. 

The cycle of con­fer­ences sched­uled for the event then started with a sem­i­nar on the sci­ences of extra vir­gin olive oil, which offered an overview of the lat­est research devel­op­ments with a focus on nutri­tion and dis­ease pre­ven­tion.

Among the speak­ers was Raffaele Sacchi, coor­di­na­tor of the degree course in Mediterranean gas­tro­nomic sci­ences at the Department of Agriculture of the University of Naples Federico II.

Extra vir­gin olive oil is the most pow­er­ful func­tional food of the Mediterranean diet,” he said. Its impor­tance in daily use, both raw and dur­ing cook­ing, is demon­strated by the numer­ous ben­e­fi­cial and pre­ven­tive func­tions, includ­ing anti-inflam­ma­tory, antiox­i­dant and anti-aging, hypoten­sive, car­dio- and neuro-pro­tec­tive, anti-dia­betic, sati­at­ing, and so on.” 

Furthermore, it is a fra­grant, pun­gent, lively food, an active ingre­di­ent in all our tra­di­tional prepa­ra­tions, from ragù to fried foods, from canned tuna to desserts and even gelato,” Sacchi added.

A series of mas­ter­classes, includ­ing guided tast­ings, took place over three days: a sen­sory analy­sis of extra vir­gin olive oils with des­ig­na­tions of ori­gin pro­duced in Campania, led by Maria Luisa Ambrosino, the Naples Chamber of Commerce panel leader.

The event also fea­tured guided tast­ings of oils from the Gargano area of Puglia and the wider Mediterranean basin. Another event focused on how extra vir­gin olive oil fla­vors vary between regions.

The pro­gram con­tin­ued with a con­fer­ence on oleo­tourism with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Campania and national and local asso­ci­a­tions. 


View from the Castle of Rocca venue of OlivitalyMed (Photo: Ylenia Granitto)

Then, the con­fer­ence titled Evofuturo” with experts and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of pro­ducer orga­ni­za­tions focused on the sec­tor’s prospects and forth­com­ing chal­lenges. 

This was fol­lowed by a talk titled Conversations about Pizza” between pizza chef Franco Pepe (fea­tured in Netflix’s Chef’s Table Pizza), pro­ducer and miller Nicolangelo Marsicani and jour­nal­ist Stefano Carboni.

This talk has brought to light some crit­i­cal issues and sev­eral ele­ments to work on, like the impor­tance of the con­sumer edu­ca­tion to qual­ity, the rec­og­niz­abil­ity of the prod­uct linked to the ter­ri­to­ri­al­ity and the actions to be taken to improve the com­mu­ni­ca­tion,” Carboni said. 

The event dis­cussed the emerg­ing role that cater­ing can play in pro­mot­ing extra vir­gin olive oil as a key ingre­di­ent in regional cuisines.

However, we can say that today, con­sumers’ aware­ness is increas­ing, and we all have more crit­i­cal tools to choose the food we put on our table,” Carboni said. In this sense, I bor­row the renowned sen­tence by the philoso­pher Ludwig Feuerbach, we are what we eat,’ to say that today we eat what we are.’”

These obser­va­tions prompted a rich dis­cus­sion that con­tin­ued dur­ing the con­clu­sive con­fer­ence on the role of extra vir­gin olive oil in the cater­ing sec­tor.

OlivItalyMed was not only a moment for tech­ni­cal analy­sis and busi­ness meet­ings, but above all, an exchange of views, cul­tures and knowl­edge,” said Marsicani, who was respon­si­ble for the tech­ni­cal orga­ni­za­tion of the event. 

For Cilento, an iconic place for extra vir­gin olive oil, it was a moment of com­par­i­son with other olive cul­ti­va­tions that seem to per­form bet­ter on the mar­kets, and this com­par­i­son, if done with fore­sight and intel­li­gence, can pro­vide the inspi­ra­tion for improv­ing the autochtho­nous pro­duc­tions by enhanc­ing their authen­tic­ity,” he added.

For the national play­ers, it was a moment of dis­cus­sion to define the cur­rent crit­i­cal issues and draw a path towards the future of extra vir­gin olive oil,” Marsicani con­tin­ued. 

Organizers said the event pro­vided an oppor­tu­nity to pull local and national pro­duc­ers into the future, encour­ag­ing them to aban­don tra­di­tional prac­tices that lower qual­ity and embrace a new cul­ture cen­tered around fruity, bit­ter and spicy extra vir­gin olive oil enlivened by aro­matic­ity and beauty.”

The orga­niz­ers are already work­ing on the next edi­tion of OlivitalyMed. All the infor­ma­tion can be found on the event web­site.


Related Articles