It’s olive harvest time so we’ve been busy this month in our grove and despite this year not being a bumper crop (in terms of quantity) we have managed to pick just over 2 tonnes of top quality olives and have pressed 320 litres of the finest extra, extra, extra, extra virgin olive oil. Nothing beats the taste and texture of freshly pressed olive oil (thick and dark, luminous green) on freshly made homemade bread or bruschetta with our home grown organic tomatoes.
For some years we have been offering olive picking holidays because we love the harvest so much we thought others might like to join in this most authentic of experiences. It’s a rare opportunity to step off the day to day treadmill of life for a chance to really appreciate the environment and be at one with nature.
We harvest our olives throughout November when they are lovely and plump in the autumn sun. As with any other day at La Cuccagna, the morning starts with a fresh breakfast including homemade yoghurts and jams. On picking days we take you to our olive grove where we lay out big nets under the tress to catch all the fallen olives. We pick by running our hands through lovely big bunches of olives, combing them from the branches and letting them fall onto the nets. Salvatore uses a mechanical hand for the upper reaches of the trees because without this extra little bit of help we wouldn’t be able to harvest all our olives before they lose their quality (or the birds get them!).
After a morning of picking we indulge you in a hard earned alfresco picnic which includes a glass of homemade wine or two. In the afternoon we carry on picking while teaching you the history and techniques of this wonderfully rewarding harvest. With the warmth of the Autumn sun on your face and the rolling Umbrian hills whichever way you turn, olive picking is surprisingly therapeutic – energetic enough to feel the benefit of fresh air and exercise but not at all uncomfortable or strenuous.
During your stay we will also take you on a visit to the local Frantoio where you can watch the olives you have picked being pressed into delicious extra, extra virgin olive oil, some of which you will be able to take home to share with your family and friends. The olive press (the frantoio) stands in the shadows of the imposing and majestic Montelebate (http://www.montelabate.com/en/products-of-the-abbey–) a beautiful 9th century abbey whose caretakers run the old olive press as if in the years gone by. Unlike some big commercial operators whose main concern is to get the biggest ‘yield’ (ratio of oil to olives), the machines at Montelebate are carefully selected to ensure that only the finest oil is pressed with zero impurities.
So why not come and stay with us next year so that you can enjoy some of this year’s wonderfully delicious oil or better still, buy some to take home with you or even better still – come and pick your own!