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.
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.
“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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”