The origins of the olive coincide with those of Mediterranean civilization: the first olive groves were cultivated in Syria and Palestine, and around 1000 B.C. spread throughout Italy.
In order to develop, the olive tree needs water, sun, and soil that is not too deep.
Olive oil is the only fundamental foodstuff which derives from a fruit and after 50 centuries is still obtained by the same process of pressing the ground olives and then separating the oil from the vegetation water.
For olive oil to earn the name "virgin", it must be obtained from the olive by mechanical processes only, and in conditions of which temperature is the most important, where the oil is not altered. The oil must not undergo procedures other than those of washing, decanting, centrifugal treatment and filtration. Olive oils obtained with solvents, esther processes and mixes with other oils are not considered virgin.
An "extra virgin" olive oil must have an oleic acid (degree of acidity) content of less than 1 percent. The quality of olive oil depends upon many factors: the variety of the tree; the state of the olive and the fruit at the moment of harvest; the technology used in the production, harvesting and extraction; the conditions of conservation.

Agogio (also called Sweet Agoglia, Nerella, Olivella). Cultivated only in Umbria and poorly diffused due to its scarce productivity, it yields a fairly prestigious oil. The olives are large and black (2.5-3 grams).

Biancolilla (also called the Biancuzza, Bianchetta, Buscarino, Jancuzza, Rizza, Signura). Cultivated prevalently in Sicily, its broad branches produce a large yield of fruit and thus oil. Once mature, the olives become yellow with pinkish accents and are medium in size. Resistant against the cold, it is partially self-fertilizing and is pollinated by Moresca and Zaituna varieties.

Bosana (also called the "Tondo del Sassarese). This variety is typical of Sardinia, is highly productive and yields a large amount of oil. The olive is small to medium in size (1.5 grams), resistant to the cold and to plant parasites. It is sterile.

Canino (also called Caminese). Cultivated in the Latium region, its medium yield of olives translates into a low yield of oil. Sterile, it is resistant against parasites.

Carboncella (also called Carbognola, Carbona, Marsella, Ritornella, Oliva tonda). Originally from Latium, it is also widely diffused in the Marche and Abruzzi regions. The vigorous plant is medium sized and produces bluish-black fruit weighing between 1.5 and 2 grams. The good, constant production produces a fair quality oil in large quantities.

Casaliva (also called Drezzeri, gentle olive, Casaliva del Garda). Originally from the Benaco area, it can be found in the Lombardy, Veneto, Trentino and Friuli regions, and has a high production of ovoid fruit weighing 2.5-3 grams.

Correggiolo (also called Raggiolo). Similar to the Frantoio variety (see below), it is widely found in Tuscany, Umbria and the Marche region.

Dritta (also called Loretana and Moscufese). Found above all in Abruzzi, it is a vigorous and tall plant, producing a large quantity of olives but medium yield of oil. The fruit weighs 2.5-3 grams. The plant is resistant against the cold and plant parasites, sterile and pollinated by Gentile di Chieti and Leccino varieties.

Frantoio (also called Frantoiano, Grognolo, Raraggio, Razza). Common in central Italy (particularly in Tuscany, Marche and Umbria) and in the Lake Garda area, the tree is vigorous with sturdy foliage and high productivity and yield of fine quality oil. The olives are oblong and violet-pink tending towards red, weighing 2.5-3 grams. Self-fertilizing.

Gentile di Chieti (also called Nostrana). Derived from the Frantoio variety, it is cultivated in Abruzzi. The vigorous and wide-spreading tree is very productive with a medium yield of good quality oil. It is highly resistant to cold weather. The Gentile di Larino variety can be found in the Molise region, whereas the Gentile di Nizza variety is found in France.

Leccino (also called leccio). Originally from Tuscany, it is diffused in Umbria, Marche, Latium. Its medium size with dense foliage boasts a fair productivity of black olives weighing 2.5-3 grams, and a medium yield of oil. Resistant to the cold, it is sterile and impollinated with Pendolino, Frantoio and Morchiaio varieties.

Moraiolo (also called Morello, Morinello, Morellina). Originally Tuscan, it is also cultivated in Umbria. Its medium sized tree produces small, round fruits weighing little more than 1 gram and black when mature. With a medium-sized production of fruit, the oil yield is medium to high. Sensitive to cold weather, it is sterile and pollinated by the Pendolino variety.

Ogliarola Barese (also called Cima di Bitonto, Marinese, Paesana). Cultivated in the Apulia, Campania and Basilicata regions, its broad limbs and foliage produce a large quantity of medium-sized fruit with medium to high oil yield. Resistant to the cold, it is sterile.

Ogliarola Messinese (also called Calamignara, Castriciana, Ogliara, Paturnisa). Cultivated in Sicily, the tree is vigorous and has high but inconsistent productivity. Its medium-sized fruit has a high oil yield. The plant is self-fertilizing.

Olivastra Saggianese (also called Olivastrella). Cultivated in Tuscany, it has a good level of productivity, a high oil yield and is self-fertilizing.

Passalunara (also called Palermitana). Originally from the province of Palermo, its high productivity leads to a high oil yield, and is sterile.

Pendolino (also called Principino). Cultivated in Tuscany and Umbria, it is a tree of medium height with good productivity and medium oil yield. Its small to medium sized fruits are light green with traces of violet. Sterile, it is useful in pollinating other varieties.

Rosciola. Common in Latium and central Italy with medium vigour and scarce development, it produces blackish-red fruits that mature early with low but constant production levels and medium oil yield. The self-fertilizing plant is robust and adapts to conditions.

Sargano (also called Sargana di Ascoli). This vigorous plant can become very large, has dark violet fruits, high productivity and medium oil yield. It is often used for alternating. It resists against high winds and brackish water.

Taggiasca (also called Lavagnina). Widespread in the Ligurian region, especially in the provinces of Savona and Imperia, its large production of fruit is medium-sized, the olive yield is high and the tree is self-fertilizing.

Bianca di Villacidro (also called Pizz'ecarroga). This typical variety of Sardinia is cultivated mainly around Cagliari. The vigorous plant has spare foliage, with high productivity and medium oil yield.

Carolea (also called Caroleo, Catanzarese, Cumignana, Olivone). This medium to large sized tree cultivated in Calabria bears olives weighing 4 grams, at high production levels and medium oil yield. It resists the cold, is sterile and is pollinated by the Nocellara Messinese variety.

Coratina (also called Racioppa di Corato). Cultivated mainly in Puglia and Molise, it has medium dimensions and upward pointing branches. Its high production yields fruits weighing 4 grams and a large quantity of oil. It is sterile.

Itrana (also called Cicerone, Getana, Trana, Oliva di Esperia). Cultivated in Lazio, it's a vigorous plant,with high production levels and medium oil yield. Fruits 3/4 grams. It is sterile.

Maiatica (also called Pasola). Cultivated mainly in Basilicata, especially in Basento valley, its vigorous plant is pendulous-limbed. Its good productivity leads to high oil yield. It is sterile.

Moresca (also called Catanisia, Nerba, Maiorana, Reale, Turdella). Common in Sicily, its vigorous plant is broad-limbed. Asymmetric fruits are black when mature and weigh about 4 grams. Its good productivity leads to medium oil yield. Sterile, it is pollinated by Ogliarola, Messinese and Biancolilla.

Sweet: when the scent is graceful, gentle and not very accentuated. It gives an initially light sensation accompanied by an almond aftertaste. It should be neither too supple nor too sweet.

Bitter: usually a negative characteristic of oils produced by sour olives, often accompanied by a hint of the leaf. With time it can become woody. A light, slightly bitter aftertaste is not to be considered negative.

Sharp: a typical flavour of fresh oils, accompanied usually by a brilliant green colour, which fades until disappearing with the passing of time.

Harmonious: it is said of a complete oil with no predominant traces or flavours, and which is evident as soon as one tastes it. It is the best quality.

Characteristic: it betrays in a strong way the character of the area of cultivation or of the particular orchard. It is not necessarily a defect, and often can be considered a positive trait.

Aggressive: is said of a disharmonious oil, with one or more excessively intense components which end up overpowering other components.

Oxidized: is said of a product which has been exposed to the air for considerable amounts of time and thus has begun to become rancid due to reaction with oxygen. It is immediately recognized and no longer fit for consumption.

Flat: is said of a flat oil, excessively bland and oily.

Mature: describes a warm golden colour with a rotund body and fruity flavour leaning towards the sweet.

Tired:Tired: evident in oils that are many months old.

Fruity: an oil is fruity when its flavour and aroma are similar to that of a mature olive. All oils after pressing seem fruity, but in most cases this characteristic disappears after a few months. An authentically fruity oil maintains this characteristic aroma through time.

Green leaf: a sensation obtained when in the press a small quantity of fresh olive leaves are added.

Musky, nutty, woody: these are traces left by the oils, and while may not be considered positive in the classic sense, are frequently characteristics of oils of certain areas of production, which are very pleasing when not overpowering.

Artichoke: a flavour which reminds one of a pleasant, fresh raw artichoke.

Green: said of a young, fresh, fruity and slightly weedy oil.

Soave: characteristic of very mature olives and pale gold in colour. Aftertaste has a very palatable, sweet tendency.

Rotund: is said of an oil with a pasty body to it which fills and satisfies without aromatic character - always from mature olives.

Moldy: an unpleasant trace consequence of the use of unhealthy or fermented olives due to excessive storage in warehouses.

Rancid: a very unpleasant flavour due to oxidation caused by heat or exposure to light or air. It can also be caused by the use of poorly cleaned containers.

Fiscolo: caused by the use of filtering panels which are not perfectly cleaned, and brings to mind hemp.

Dreggish: recalls the odor of warm lubricating oil and is caused by the poor or lacking execution of the decanting process.

Olearic Fly: oil from fruit stricken by this insect: the flavour is both rotten and putrid at the same time.

Metalic: easily individualized, it is caused by the use of unprotected or ionized iron machines or recipients.

Impersonal: a serious defect for virgin oil, because it means it has neither character nor personality. It is a trait common in all manipulated oils.

Poor conservation: the oil absorbs the odors and flavours of everything surrounding it even if not in direct contact. It is a very common defect.

Dirty: it is said of oils which have absorbed the unpleasant odors and flavours of the vegetation waters with which they have remained in contact for too long.

Phenic acid: pertaining to poorly kept very old oils.

Bitter: a trait produced by olives that are unripe and with little meat.

Warmth: due to the fermentation of olives kept too long in bags.

Frozen: due to olives which have been exposed to freezing temperatures. When cooked, this oil gives off very unpleasant odors.

Lampantino: oil which should be sent to a refinery. When it does not present awful organic characteristics, it can be edible.

The benefits from olive oil consumption for the human organism are many:

- Reduces the level of LDL cholesterol
- Reduces the blockage of arteries
- Reduces the blood pressure of arteries
- Reduces the level of blood sugar
- Increases the secretion of bile
- Increases the absorption of Vitamins A, D and E
- Facilitates the absorption of other vitamins
- Prevents arteriosclerosis
- Prevents myocardium heart attack

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