`Urban Extra Virgin: Olive Oil from Rome - Olive Oil Times

Urban Extra Virgin: Olive Oil from Rome

May. 29, 2012
Luciana Squadrilli

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Made in Rome

Though it could sound weird to a non-Roman reader, Italy’s cap­i­tal is one of the green­est cities not only in the coun­try itself, but in the whole Europe. With around 52 thou­sand hectares of agri­cul­tural land and its beau­ti­ful parks and pub­lic gar­dens, the city has 131.7 cubic meters of green space per per­son.

From the Agro Romano, the green belt” around Rome, come a lot of won­der­ful prod­ucts such as cheeses, honey, veg­eta­bles (the romanesche” cour­gettes, car­rots, green beans, puntarelle or chicory sprouts), and extra vir­gin olive oil of course. In fact, the famous Sabina PDO also includes some areas inside the Roman province.

But what about an extra vir­gin olive oil com­ing from inside the city bound­aries?

You might con­sider olive trees within the city merely as orna­men­tal items, but that’s not true. Olive trees sur­vive in aban­doned fields, parks, pub­lic and pri­vate gar­dens — and they can still can give a good olive oil. Maybe it could be unre­ward­ing to har­vest them, maybe noone even notices them, but they are ready to accom­plish their nature, and it would be a waste not to make it hap­pen.

Olive har­vest in a pub­lic park in Rome

That was the phi­los­o­phy behind Olio Pu.Ro. (PUblic ROman oil), one of the urban expe­ri­ence” projects by Primavera Romana (Roman spring), and under­taken in 2010 by Stalker (a group made of archi­tects, researchers and artists, led by Giulia Fiocca and Lorenzo Romito) in order to gen­er­ate and share social knowl­edge and aware­ness of urban change and to pro­mote new prac­tices, poet­ics and pol­i­tics of coex­is­tence in the emerg­ing beyond­c­ity” dimen­sion.

On that occa­sion, around 300 kilos of olives were har­vested in dif­fer­ent Roman bor­oughs, giv­ing about 40 litres of good olive oilwhich were sold at a fair price, and an open map of the Roman pub­lic olive trees was cre­ated.

In 2011 the project gave way to orange pick­ing from the orna­men­tal trees in Rome, but for 2012 the oil pro­duc­tion exper­i­ment will be repeated going beyond the city bor­ders.

Olive trees out­side Rome’s Colosseum

Primavera Romana is pro­mot­ing a sort of coop­er­a­tive involv­ing both Italian and for­eign har­vesters (includ­ing polit­i­cal refugees) to pick the olives from the aban­doned yards to share their own olives for the com­mon press­ing of the oil.

All the par­tic­i­pants share the com­mon aim to pro­mote self-man­aged agri­cul­tural work, the meet­ing of dif­fer­ent cul­tures, a new rela­tion­ship between city and coun­try­side, waste reduc­tion and qual­ity food pro­duc­tion. People are also invited to report pub­lic or pri­vate aban­doned olive trees, to vol­un­teer as olive pick­ers, to ask for some­one to har­vest their own trees, or to buy the olive oil.

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