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Removing the last olives

P

uglia (or Apulia as it is also known) is often called “the heel of Italy’s boot.” It is the land of conical trulli houses, baroque towns, castles, fortified medieval farms (masserie) and thousand-year-old olive trees. Sadly, these trees are under attack either from the changing climate or from bacteria from South America that leaves them shriveled and diseased. Saving as many of these ancient giants as possible is the passion and commitment of Armando Balestrazzi and his wife, Rosalba, owners of Masseria Il Frantoio, a quaint inn and one of the most unique masserie you will find in the province. Driving in Puglia takes you through arid, dusty terrain where row upon row of olive trees march endlessly across the landscape, as far as the eye can see. There are over 60 million registered trees here, almost 15 million of which are over 1,000 years old. They rise into the deep blue sky between the ancient dry stone walls, their thick gnarly trunks twisting and turning clockwise like so many helixes. Some are so ancient that their branches must be supported by pillars of stone, holding up the weight of centuries of growth. Their fruit produces 40 percent of Italy’s production of olive oil, a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet for over 6,000 years. Armando proudly relates the story of how 25 years ago, burnt out by bureaucracy and urban life, he and Rosalba moved to the ancient masseria that previously had belonged to the same family for over 500 years. Together, they turned it into an enchanting place where guests are accommodated amidst centuries of history. Guests are wined and dined in the family dining room with olive oil produced from the 4,200 trees on the estate.

The “Allegria” olive tree

Profile for FWT Magazine

FWT Magazine: food wine travel - Issue 6, Winter 2016/17 - World Cuisine  

It gives us great pleasure to bring you another issue, this one themed “World Cuisine.” On this journey we skip around the planet, pausing h...

FWT Magazine: food wine travel - Issue 6, Winter 2016/17 - World Cuisine  

It gives us great pleasure to bring you another issue, this one themed “World Cuisine.” On this journey we skip around the planet, pausing h...

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