The best Olive Vineyards in Italy are difficult to discern. It’s like asking an American which are the best wine vineyards; Napa Valley or the Finger Lakes of New York? However, most Italians will concur there are outstanding olives in the hills of Chianti, in Tuscany.
An experienced tour guide might suggest a novel mini-working vacation at an olive grove in Muricciaglia where you can pick the olives and become involved in the art of making olive oil.
Plan your trip in Mid-November. This is when olives are harvested. After the growers place nets beneath the trees, you’ll be instructed to pick every single olive regardless of the size or color. Small or large, black or green, nothing is left on the tree when it is selected for picking.
The olive industry is vital in Italy and there are many ways to get the olive off the tree. Some farmers shake the tree to release the fruit. Other more commercial operations resort to mechanical devices at harvest time.
The weather in Tuscany remains sunny, warm and beautiful for the job. You’ll spend all morning in the fields picking the olives and then settle into a long, delicious and relaxing lunch featuring local items and some wine before picking a few more olives in the afternoon.
Once the harvest is completed, the olives are taken to an extraction plant, or “frantoio”. It is here where the olives are extracted from the fruit after they are all washed and weighed. The plants operate all day and night at harvest time, as trucks bearing the labors of the harvest from all area farms come in.
In the end you’ll be able to sample the oil you helped to create, making for a lifelong memory of your time in Olive Vineyards in Italy.