A new travel trend affecting the hearts and taste buds of food travelers around the globe is leaving wine behind in search of a more edible fruit. Gearing up for the season’s harvest — approaching as early as late September — olive oil tasting tours rival well-loved wine tours with an exclusive chance to celebrate the Mediterranean landscape and culture at its finest. A popular destination of choice: Tuscany.
Tuscany is known for its Frantoio, Leccino, Pendolino and Moraiolo olive varieties and offers a little more than its fair share of tasting options. USA Today Travel recently highlighted popular Tuscan properties that offer a true “olive oil immersion experience,” where olive oil newcomers and even the EVOO enthusiast may learn something new.
Villa Campestri is an olive oil resort located just 20 miles north of Florence and welcomes day-trippers and extended stay visitors to its 13th century estate for hours of olive oil edification.
Guest will tour the 2,500-tree grove, experience a demonstration of the extraction process, enjoy a full educational tasting and finally a meal in the villa restaurant showcasing their finest oils.
Gemma Pasquali, proprietor of the estate explains that Italian olive oils vary vastly by region, that “only in Italy do we have over 500 cultivators of different type of olives.”
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The Lucini Italia Estate harvests in early fall just as the olives turn purple and produces only 5,000 bottles a year. The small-scale production makes their estate tour an intimate tasting experience. Guests are encouraged to taste the oils on the native “Fettuna,” an unsalted toasted piece of bread.
South of Florence find Manni, home to an innovative production method developed by Armando Manni that produces organic EVOO with a high antioxidant value and low acidity. A tour of this property includes a hike to the top of Mount Amiata where visitors can revel in the lush landscape of one of the most beautiful olive meccas in the world.
While wine tours continue to draw crowds, an olive oil education is, for some travelers, a refreshing alternative.