Now that my project about Tuscany over the seasons is over, I have decided to start a new project: Tuscany through my eyes. Well, more or less… I am planning on publishing one or more photos of Tuscany every week, and not just some beautiful photos, but images that “match” the way I see my beautiful region at that time of the year. I will publish photos that I have taken and photos that I have not taken but I wish I had! 52 posts to show you Tuscany the way I see it and feel it. Here are the other posts in the series.
Week 3 – With November comes the new olive oil
As I have mentioned in other posts, the first week on November means the beginning of the olive harvest in my family. This year, olives abound but the olive oil is not excellent as it usually is , because it has a bitterish aftertaste. Apparently, that is due to the total lack of rain between May and October and the incredible heat that characterized this past summer. I guess extreme weather conditions lead to extreme flavours…
We had the first bruschette on Sunday, and, truth be told, they weren’t that bad at all. Sure the olive oil was a bit more bitter than usual, but still very good. I think it will lose that flavour eventually, just like it loses the spicy one.
Picking olives is not my favorite activity, to be honest: I much prefer picking grapes. It involves a lot of bending, lifting and standing in the mud. Plus it usually happens when the first cold days arrive. On the contrary, my parents love it.
However, there are certain things of the days spent in the olive grove that I love. First of all, in November the countryside is simply gorgeous. After the dry months, the fields turn green again. The contrast with the fading vines is very pretty.
What I like the most, though, is the time we get to spend with my family. The rhythms of our lives leave very little time for chatting with your loved ones. But farming jobs like this provide the perfect opportunity to catch up. My uncles and aunts usually join us, and we end up working all together around the same olive tree for a while in the crispy November air.
We talk about each-other’s lives, and about other people’s business too! A little gossip never hurt anybody…
In the meanwhile my grandmother is usually in the house preparing lunch, or setting the table and lighting the fire if everybody brought something of their own. The smell of the firewood burning in the fireplace blends in with the smell of the wet grass, the muddy nets where we gather olives after shaking them off the trees, and the smell of the olives themselves, such a distinctive mix that I can smell even now if I close my eyes.
Lunch always lasts too long for my dad’s taste: he is always ready to go back to business while we are still digging into our sausages roasted in the fireplace or our polenta with wild boar stew and sipping some wine. Now that my grandad is not with us anymore, he’s alone in his attempt to make the whole process more about getting stuff done than chatting while picking!
If you are passionate about the whole olive oil culture in Tuscany there are plenty of events to take part in.
Our village, which has a long history of olive oil production (and you can read about the “buchi unti”, literally “the greasy holes“, or the villagers’ nickname here) and organizes a lovely olive oil festival every year, usually on the second weekend of November (here is a link to the dedicated Facebook page). It is a fabulous opportunity to discover a big part of the local tradition and culture. If you are in the area, please come!
And don’t forget to check our offers for a stay in Tuscany during the olive harvest season!