The magical land of Valle d’Itria is home to an equally magical tree: the olive tree. This plant has been associated for millennia with the idea of the divine, peace and immortality and it is no coincidence that some olive branches were found in the Egyptian tombs over 4000 years ago. The olive tree has in fact a unique peculiarity that not everyone knows: if the central stem dies, the plant has the ability to reproduce from the collar, at the base of the trunk. Even its longevity is unbelievable and it is believed that some plants still present in Puglia and Palestine are about two thousand years old. The mother of all olive species is the wild olive tree, whose fossil leaf findings can be dated to around one million years ago.
The olive tree that needs water, lots of sun and very deep stony soils has found its ideal habitat along the shores of the Mediterranean characterised by hot dry summers and rainy winters. In Valle d’Itria, in the Salento and along the Parco delle Dune Costiere the Coastal Dune Park) grow the trees of the Ogliarian variety, they are among the most extraordinary, majestic olive trees that grow in bizarre forms shaped by the wind.
In Cisternino, the D’Amico family continued the ancient family tradition of olive oil production started by their grandparents in 1917. The Frantolio, this is the name of the company run by Pietro and his sons Antonello and Vitamaria, uses the method of organic farming on an area of about 47 hectares in which there are about 6,000 plants of olive trees with about 70 olive varieties including the most typical ones such as Ogliarola, Nardò, Cerasola, Fasola, Corna, Leucocarpa as well as two varieties of secular wild olive trees of the Mediterranean scrub. The most valuable product is the extra virgin olive oil “Trisole”, certified by Bioagricert, the national organic certification body, which, following strict regulations, guarantees high quality.
Not everyone knows that the extra virgin olive oil has infinite beneficial properties on our body. Very important is its anti-aging property as the olives are rich in polyphenols, vitamin E and carotenoids which slow down the oxidative process and counteract cell aging. Extremely digestible, the olive oil helps the proper functioning of the liver, intestine and decreases the “bad” cholesterol reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Composed primarily of monounsaturated fatty acids and linoleic fatty acid, olive oil is considered the most easily metabolizable fat in the human body, favoring the digestion of other fats, which is why it is always useful to season food with a spoonful of oil. The extra virgin olive oil is also useful to make vegetables desirable, and in general it makes all foods softer and more digestible, favoring their absorption; it also has a slight laxative effect.
For food lovers the most important aspect is that the extra virgin olive oil enhances the flavor of meals and above all goes well with our traditional dishes such as the frisa or frisella, the local “snack”, typical of Puglia and Valle d ‘Itria, that provides a good contribution of carbohydrates and it is rich in polyphenols and antioxidant carotenoids contained both in the olive oil and in the tomato: a perfect match especially on summer days when it is important to eat an energetic snack which is also light at the same time.
The ancient farm owned by the D’Amico family and the adjacent modern production plant are located in the countryside between Cisternino and Ostuni, with an adjoining sales point in ancient trulli houses.
The pride of the D’amico family’s production are the Trisole extra-virgin olive oils, including LACRIMA and NETTARE DI OLIVA oil, produced from carefully selected olives of ancient trees, hand-picked from mid-October to mid-December and cold worked.
Symbol of Trisole products is the fiscolo: It is a disc of straw woven by hand, which is still used in Puglia as a filter when the olives are cold pressed. The choice to represent the family business with this emblem is a tribute to the peasant history that has always inspired the commitment of the D’Amico family. In fact the production techniques still use traditional methods supported by modern systems. Olives are still partially picked by hands, after which the olives are checked and then passed to the milling that takes place within 12 hours to maintain the fragrance and the organoleptic properties of the fruit.
Not everyone knows that a good olive oil gives its best after 4-6 months of maturation, but after 18-24 it loses most of its fragrance and freshness and most of the vitamin E and antioxidant substances. Since heat, temperature changes, air and light accelerate oxidation, the oil should always be stored in a tightly closed container and in the dark.
The questions of guests and customers visiting the plant are the most varied: above all foreigners ask if it is possible to cook with extra virgin olive oil. Many want to know how long it takes before the olive tree starts producing fruits and for how many years it remains productive. They are always curious to know how many kilograms of olives are needed to produce a liter of oil or how many olives a single tree produces and if the oil from the old trees is better than the oil produced by young trees. Many are those who ask to participate in collecting the olives by hands and if it is possible to watch the production process.
Almost all, Italians and foreigners, at first intrigued, as they listen to the story of this fascinating world, they are totally captured by the details of the production process of the extra virgin olive oil and they llok forward to the moment of tasting the oil, the moment when the experience becomes sensorial and it comes into play the smell and taste.
According to Greek mythology it was the goddess Athena who planted the first olive tree and the Greeks always considered it a sacred plant, a symbol of strength, faith and peace, so that those who harmed or eradicated it were punished with exile. Thucydides in the fifth century B.C. wrote that “the people of the Mediterranean began to emerge from barbarism when they learned to cultivate the olive and the vineyards”. How much truth there is in that sentence: the olive tree plants used as a trading good produced wealth, allowed the houses to be illuminated by burning of the olive oil, and was used since Roman times as an ointment for wounds, the care of the body and as a cleanser and to give elasticity to the skin.
Il Frantolio is located in CONTRADA TESORO no.25 on the main road SP17 CISTERNINO-OSTUNI – Tel. +39 080 4444671 Cell. +39 348/2829162 – facebook: ilfrantolio – website: www.ilfrantolio.it –email: firstname.lastname@example.org