Friday, November 12, 2010

Raccolta Delle Olive-Calabrian Olive Harvest Old and New

Sitting by the fire at the beautiful Villa Tranquilla
One of the many things I love about my new life is that one minute I can be sitting in the spacious living room at my friends' beautiful villa near Maratea and the next be hanging from an olive tree helping another friend with her raccolta della olive (olive harvest). This is a story of contrasts--Contrasts of weather, way of life, and methods of olive harvest.

Our friend Pina mentioned that she was about to harvest her olives.  Since we are typical expats, we said we wanted to help.  (Most expats in Italy want to help with the grape and olive harvests--probably because the books we read before we come all describe the fun had by all). Remember Doug and I just came from a farm so we figured we wouldn't be too stupid about the work involved.  It wasn't bad at all and the day was perfect.  I can hear Guido right now reminding me to tell you about each step involved and the equipment used and to cut the philosophy in half.  So okay, here it is in captioned pictures:

Pina wouldn't let us climb the trees since she weighs less than we do and the branches break easily--
plus I think she liked it
I honestly don't know what I was doing here, perhaps lowering a branch so I could reach the olives
This olive grove is in our town, Santa Domenica Talao, down off of the hill
Pina helps her friend Franco harvest his olives so she can harvest some oil
These are what the olives look like on the tree
They are very bitter so there is no tasting while you pick
The first thing that is done is the laying of the mesh--Pina said that when she was a girl they just raked them off 
of the ground. Doug is holding a long handled rake to rake 'em off onto the mesh. 
Note the stakes downhill of the tree to avoid any olives falling downhill off the mesh

The next step is gather in the mesh, then pick all the errant leaves out of the olives, put the olives in the bucket and then in mesh bags for Franco's tractor to pick up and take to the frantoio (oil press)

Here is Franco using his 500 Euro electric rake (works off a tractor battery)
He is happy because he is getting a lot more done than we are
Pina is probably out there again today since we had that one nice day and it has rained for about a week since then. Today is a glorious olive picking day but we have other promises to keep and miles to go before we sleep...sorry Mr. Frost.


  1. I am delighted you enjoyed your first experience of helping with the olive harvest. For the first time since we moved here our harvest was a huge disappointment. We have no control over nature so hope for a better one again next year. Maybe you read my post?

  2. Yes we did. Farm life can be so changeable can't it? My grandfather once had a bumper crop of wheat so beautiful that he took pictures of it with my Mom standing in it for scale. The next day a thunderstorm with hail took it all, 100% ruined. The land of "next year" is where farmers live.



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