The beautiful town of Lucca, set near the Tuscan coast about a one-hour train ride from Florence, is mostly famous for the beauty of its old town center surrounded by the intact Renaissance-era city walls and for hosting Italy’s largest comics exhibition, every Fall.
But for three years now Lucca, that in 2014 joined the National Association of Olive Oil Cities (Associazione Nazionale Città dell’Olio), has also been known as a major “oil destination” thanks to the annual ExtraLucca event and the quality of the olive oil produced nearby.
Organized by Fausto Borella, an olive oil educator and founder of the Maestrod’olio academy, the event is a sort of village fair involving many of the city’s most evocative locations for tastings, workshops, conferences and cooking demonstrations.
The ExtraLucca 2015 edition running this weekend — organized under the patronage of the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, of the Lucca Municipality and Milan Expo 2015 — will have a special relevance due to the difficult 2014 harvest.
“Usually, olive oil producers are men of few words; they let the product speak in their stead,” Borella said, “but this year extra virgin in Italy is very little, and those who were able to bottle a good product will be out of stock by March. They will then be forced to speak, and to tell about their work and about the oil they made and already finished. This is a good thing, since extra virgin needs to be narrated in its most ample sense, besides the technical aspects of production».”
Such is the aim of ExtraLucca, which will hold a conference bearing the straightforward title “In March the quality Italian olive oil will be finished up.”
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The city’s streets and buildings — from the central via Fillungo to Villa Bottini, a beautiful mansion from the Renaissance period — will host tasting stalls displaying olive oils, food and wine and the cooking demos where many famous chefs will show their recipes featuring extra virgin olive oil as a special ingredient.
On Saturday, February 13 the church of San Cristoforo will host the presentation of the Terred’Olio2015, an olive oil guide edited by Borella and the award ceremony where the selected farms will receive the “Corone’ (crowns) appointed to the best oils, according to the guide.