Sicilian P.D.O. Oil
"It looked like a fake tree, such as those used in theater, inspired by the fantasy of a Gustavo Doré, a possible illustration for Dante's Inferno. The lower branches brushed the ground ... ": this is how an ancient olive tree is described by the writer Andrea Camilleri in his novel "Gita a Tindari, 2000” (Excursion to Tindari). The thought goes to the atavistic beauty of the Sicilian landscape, with its sunny and immense expanses of wild and Saracen olive trees, with trunks up to 10 meters in circumference. How much history in each of them!
Sicily, with 155,000 hectares of cultivated land, is the third Italian region for land used for olive growing. Moreover, for historical, cultural, and above all geographic reasons, it has represented and it still represents today an important place of genetic differentiation. In all likelihood, in this region there are, in fact, more olive varieties than the entire Mediterranean basin.
Although Pliny and Cicero attribute the introduction of the olive tree to the Greek colonization, archaeological research documents that this tree was introduced in Sicily in prehistoric times: seeds of wild olive trees dating back to Neolithic age were found in the Grotta dell'Uzzo, in the province of Trapani. The oldest archaeological artefacts with decorative olive leaves, which were impressed on ceramics before firing, date back to the Middle Bronze Age (XIV century BC) and were found around Syracuse (Cozzo del Pantano necropolis) and Comiso. The historians Timeo and Diodoro attributed the richness of Agrigento in the 5th century BC to the oil and wine export to Carthage. Moreover, in the seventies of the last century an oil factory of the Hellenistic age was discovered on the Atenea cliff of Agrigento.
A cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet and prestigious symbol of the island culture, the Sicilian Oil is also a key focus of the local economy and an Italian agro-food excellence which is quite sought abroad. Thanks to century-old skill and experience of olive growers and oil-millers, some areas stand out in particular for the production of extra virgin olive oil which is protected and enhanced with the Protected Designation of Origin Certification.
The prestigious PDO recognition has been assigned to the extra virgin olive oil produced in eight territories: "Monti Iblei" (on the plateaus between the provinces of Siracusa, Ragusa and Catania); "Valli Trapanesi" (which includes the municipalities of Alcamo, Buseto Palizzolo, Calatafimi, Castellammare del Golfo, Custonaci, Erice, Marsala, Mazara del Vallo, Paceco, Petrosino, Poggioreale, Salemi, San Vito lo Capo, Trapani, Valderice and Vita); "Val di Mazara" (in the province of Palermo and Agrigentino, in the municipalities of Alessandria della Rocca, Burgio, Calamonaci, Caltabellotta, Cattolica Eraclea, Cianciana, Lucca Sicula, Menfi, Montevago, Sambuca di Sicilia, Santa Margherita di Belice, Ribera, Sciacca, Villafranca Sicula); "Monte Etna" (the foothills are those which are the more dedicated to olive growing, for oil and table olive production); "Valle del Belice" (which includes the territories of Castelvetrano, Campobello di Mazara, Partanna, Salaparuta, Santa Ninfa and Poggioreale) and "Valdemone" (which covers the whole territory of Messina, with the exception of the mountain ranges of Peloritani and Nebrodi).
The character of each olive oil is closely related to the olive variety, the climate and the cultivation area. Thus, most of the Sicilian olive oils have an aftertaste of almond, green or ripe tomato, aromatic plants and artichoke. Sicilian olives (such as Biancolilla, Cerasuola, Moresca, Nocellara del Belice, Nocellara Etnea, Ogliarola Messinese, Santagatese, Tonda Iblea) express a wide range of flavors and aromas, allowing to obtain unique and inimitable olive oils.