Europe

In Italy, Hiking Through the Olive Groves

Italy's third annual “Walk through the olive trees” combines heart-healthy exercise with the chance to learn about production and taste local extra virgin olive oils.

Dec. 4, 2019
By Ylenia Granitto

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The third “Walk through the olive trees”, orga­nized by the National Association Città dell’Olio (National Association Olive Oil Cities) at the end of October, was con­sid­ered a big suc­cess with thou­sands of par­tic­i­pants.

Olive groves and mills marked the stages of walk­ing itin­er­aries, which included places of his­tor­i­cal and others of envi­ron­men­tal value across Italy and offered hikers the oppor­tu­nity to explore the world of extra virgin olive oil, through pro­duc­tion ter­ri­to­ries and farm­ers in 17 regions.

Walking in olive areas def­i­nitely con­tributes to a sense of inner peace. The pres­ence of these beau­ti­ful trees has a sooth­ing effect.- Lucia Crapolicchio, Fitwalking Andria Cammina

“Thanks to the col­lab­o­ra­tion of more than 100 local author­i­ties, which orga­nized the itin­er­aries, and the pro­duc­ers, who are the keep­ers of the olive oil cul­ture, we suc­ceeded in pre­sent­ing our ter­ri­to­ries, crafts, tra­di­tions, and tastes to many par­tic­i­pants, and their response was enthu­si­as­tic,” the pres­i­dent of the Città dell’Olio, Enrico Lupi said.

Beyond being a way to pro­mote olive oil tourism, this ini­tia­tive def­i­nitely fits in with a trend of recent years which has led the trend fore­cast­ing com­pany WGSN to include hiking among the ‘It’ fit­ness activ­i­ties of 2019.

See more: Olive Oil Health Benefits

However, what the trend experts define as the “new yoga,” due to the plus points of recon­nec­tion with nature and high “Instagramability,” is not just the latest fad but also pro­vides many ben­e­fits.

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It was already known that out­door walk­ing group pro­grams could be endorsed through “green pre­scrip­tions” to improve psy­cho­log­i­cal and emo­tional well-being, and it has been recently demon­strated that walk­ing through forest areas reduces neg­a­tive emo­tions, while pro­mot­ing a pos­i­tive mood with a sig­nif­i­cant impact on anx­i­ety levels.

Olive groves have proved to be beau­ti­fully suited for those who want to enjoy all of these ben­e­fits.

“Walking in olive areas def­i­nitely con­tributes to a sense of inner peace,” Lucia Crapolicchio, founder and instruc­tor at Fitwalking Andria Cammina, said. “The pres­ence of these beau­ti­ful trees has a sooth­ing effect.”

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Her group attended the “Walk through the olive trees” in the area of Andria, enjoy­ing the beauty of flour­ish­ing trees laden with sound drupes of Coratina olives, the late-ripen­ing vari­ety typ­i­cal of the area.

“We par­tic­i­pated with other sports asso­ci­a­tions and orga­nized a fundraiser for local char­i­ties, adding fur­ther pos­i­tive ele­ments to a very enjoy­able and useful expe­ri­ence,” she said.

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Crapolicchio also high­lighted that walk­ing is ben­e­fi­cial to health, reduc­ing risk of heart dis­ease and stroke, improv­ing the man­age­ment of con­di­tions such as hyper­ten­sion, high cho­les­terol, and high blood sugar, as well as strength­en­ing mus­cles and bones.

“Regular exer­cise, con­sist­ing of an hour walk­ing at a speed of at least six kilo­me­ters (3.7 miles) per hour, can become a real sports activ­ity,” she said.

Along with exer­cis­ing the heart, leg and back mus­cles, hiking in the olive trees also pos­i­tively impacts mental health, Erika Moranti, one of the day’s hiking guides, said.

“Walking in nature is com­pletely sus­tain­able and has innu­mer­able pos­i­tive effects both on body and mind, greatly reduc­ing stress levels,” she said. “Yet, walk­ing through the olive trees has been a some­what spe­cial expe­ri­ence.”

Her group hiked in Tuscany, from Castel del Piano to Monte Giovi, along a path char­ac­ter­ized by light climbs and descents, at the end of which there is a mill.

“Many chil­dren took part in the walk, and this shows how this activ­ity is family-friendly, espe­cially if car­ried out in safe con­di­tions like those of an olive grove,” she said

Morganti added that this kind of expe­ri­ence, “gives you the pos­si­bil­ity to better under­stand­ing the ter­ri­tory, through the agri­cul­tural and food cul­ture, with the high-qual­ity extra virgin olive oil at the core.”

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The grow­ing inter­est in hiking of recent years was noted by the hiking guide, Mario Malinverno.

“Many people started to walk in nature, as it can be con­sid­ered a sports activ­ity which has many perks, and, fur­ther­more, the effects on the spirit are extra­or­di­nary,” he said.

During the event orga­nized by Città dell’Olio, his group walked in the area char­ac­ter­ized by the Olivastra Seggianese, a vari­ety which is deeply linked with the ter­ri­tory, cul­ti­vated at the foothills of the Mount Amiata thanks to a good resis­tance to low tem­per­a­tures.

“The increas­ingly higher qual­ity of pro­duc­tion is a good reason to deepen our knowl­edge of these beau­ti­ful olive farms and their groves, where one can walk, become aware of farm­ing meth­ods and, during the breaks, taste prod­ucts,” Malinverno said. “Walking though the olive trees can be a pleas­ant vari­a­tion of hiking with a deli­cious and worth­while added value.”