Olive oil (olio d’oliva)
Ian writes: as one of the largest producers of olive oil in the world, the olive harvest in Italy is now in full-swing. In Tuscany, Umbria and especially Puglia, huge swathes of olive groves dominate the countryside. Very sensibly, Pugliese farmers wait for the fruit to fall from the trees, whilst in Tuscany/Umbria pickers tend to don some protective glasses and shin-up ladders to get them off the trees.
Picking techniques notwithstanding, the crop is ideally whisked off to the mill on the same day, with the first pressing ready for consumption that evening – drizzled over some toasted bread. The bright green peppery oil looses some of its pungency as time progresses, so if you’re interested in tasting it ‘straight off the tree’, grab a cheap flight and sample one of the finest of Italy’s many food exports first hand. The following selection of Essential Italy properties are the perfect base to let you do just that: