When we think about the Ligurian countryside, the first image that springs to mind is one of the groves of olive trees which paint the Ligurian hills in their ever changing shade of silver.
It’s a truly fairytale-like picture.
Then, during Autumn days, we adore walking through those same groves coloured this time with the orange and white of the nets, placed under the trees to catch the fruit as it matures.
The moment of the harvest, a magical experience in itself, comes between the latter part of October and the end of December and varies from year to year, depending on the air temperature and on the weather of the prior months.
But the aim of the producers always remains the same: to gather the olives in that precise moment in which they give their best in terms of flavour.
Following harvesting, transformation of the fruit into golden oil must be completed within 24 hours at the latest so as to guarantee the best possible product and obtain the prestigious “DOP” certification (denominazione di origine protetta).
By the way, did you know that the tiny, black “taggiasche” olives (this is the name of the most typical Ligurian olive variety) are wonderful olives, not just for making typical Ligurian oil but delicious when eaten either on their own or as an accompaniment to traditional local dishes?
Ligurian olive oil has a delicate flavour which exalts but does not mask the taste of food, so results perfect when paired with a simple cuisine rich in fish and vegetables just like ours here in Liguria.
Olive oil producers will often welcome you to try their oil (in some cases you can see their immense granite millstones at work, slowly grinding up the olives) and the typical trattorias or agriturismi scattered throughout the region’s medieval villages give the perfect opportunity for those searching for genuine Italian flavours to try those dishes reminiscent “of grandma’s cooking”!
Savouring a dish of trenette pasta with pesto sauce, a vegetable quiche, or filled pansoti pasta and rabbit cooked Ligurian-style, as well as trying local cheeses accompanied with chutneys or honey – these all make a visit to the western part of Liguria a worthwhile trip!
A few words about Ligurian olive oil
Olive oil in Liguria has a history that dates back to the 14th century. Legend has it that the “taggiasca olive trees” were cultivated by Benedictine monks, who brought them to Liguria.
When you taste Ligurian olive oil, you’ll notice that it has a fruity note to it, which is sweeter towards the West and slightly spicier towards the Eastern part of the region.
But it is also worth noting that Taggiasca olive oil does not just have culinary uses, but is also found in beauty products such as purifying face masks, hand creams and soaps, as well as having medicinal uses, such as in the treatment of burns. It is even used to polish bronze and mixed into other household products – a truly versatile product!
Where to find out more about ligurian olive oil?
Liguria has many different routes dedicated to olive oil, so a trip is a must! All along the Italian Riviera there are multiple trails dedicated to this golden ambrosia.
Being locals, what we always suggest is not to stop just in the beautiful Cinque Terre but to go deeper, discovering amazing and untouched corners of Liguria and above all meeting its people, those artisans and local olive oil producers who will enrich you with their family stories and amazing hospitality.
In fact our most precious piece of advice would be to spend an entire day on an authentic olive oil tasting tour.
One of our recommended olive oil tour
Immagine a day that starts with a stroll through the olive groves overlooking the sea of the Golfo del Tigullio, a perfect place for capturing those unique views that only extremely discerning tourists will be able to take home.
Listen to a local producer as he spins his tales of oil and olives whilst you walk together through groves planted centuries before and then let him guide you through a proper tasting of a range of different DOP oils.
And from the theory you can then move to the truly practical side of things, entering the producer’s home, lunching with his family, tasting the typical dishes of the Ligurian culinary tradition, where oil is never lacking; even learning to make pesto sauce, one of the best-known and loved recipes from Italian cooking the world over.
An authentic and exclusive day experience, a tour that you certainly won’t find on the web and that we organise thanks to our intimate knowledge of this small and yet great local reality.