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Tuscany’s Olive Oil

  • The Story of Tuscany’s Olive Oil

    Italy is renowned for the high quality of its olive oil, and rightly so. Some of the best comes from Tuscany, with single-estate bottled oil being the most highly prized ¬– and the most expensive.

    The soil, type of tree, amount of sunshine and the amount of rain that falls during the growing season all play their part in determining the flavour of the oil. A variety of olive trees are grown in Italy, each of which has its own particular characteristics. Most of the olive trees grown in Tuscany are Frantoio, Leccino, Pendolio, Maurino, Moraiolo and Taggiasca.

    The best type of soil to plant the trees in is clay or good loamy soil with plenty of drainage. Although olive trees can thrive in difficult conditions, there is no guarantee of a reliable crop each year. It is essential that the trees have good irrigation throughout the growing season to maximise their yield. Olives are produced on the previous year's growth; therefore, annual pruning is essential for maintaining the health of the tree, ensuring an annual crop and encouraging an even fruit set.

    Olives are picked by hand to minimise damage to the fruit  and then washed to remove any dirt and dust. Within 24 to 48 hours of being harvested, the olives, including the skin and stones, are crushed into a pulp by a stone mill or metal grinder. This pulp is then pressed using a traditional wooden or modern hydraulic press. This is the first pressing and strict guidelines must be adhered to during this process. In order to label a bottle “first cold pressing”, or in the case of an industrial process “cold extraction”, EU guidelines state that the olives must be pressed at a temperature below 27C.

    Perhaps the most skilled part of the process, is deciding when to harvest the olives, because this determines the flavour and taste. Pick too soon or too late and the acidity of the fruit will affect the quality and flavour of the oil detrimentally. Extra-virgin olive oil must have an acidity level of less than 1 per cent. The Italian government has introduced protected designation of origin labels for its olive oils’ DOP. In addition, olive oil from the Chianti region has a special quality-assurance label of denomination of controlled origin DOC.

    It is quite normal for an extra-virgin olive oil to have some sediment at the bottom of the bottle; this is because many of the oils are not filtered after pressing to retain maximum flavour. Once bottled, the oil should be stored away from direct sunlight and should not be exposed to extremes of temperature – a cool pantry or cellar is ideal. Once opened, the oil should be used within a year or by the consume-by date on the label– it’s so delicious it is unlikely to last that long anyway.

    Olive oil, in particular the pure extra-virgin olive oil, is a powerful antioxidant, containing monounsaturated fats, beneficial fats that help reduce cholesterol levels, good for our hearts and our general wellbeing. Olive oil is also widely used in cosmetics, mixed with essential oils in moisturisers and used in high-quality soaps.

    Fancy joining in the olive harvest or witnessing it first hand? Ask when booking where this is possible and we’ll be happy to advise. The harvest takes place on your doorstep, if you stay in a villa at Montebuoni or Montefiorile. We pick the olives growing in and around both of these hamlets, then take them to our neighbours at the vineyard Casanuova di Ama, who have them cold pressed in Volterra, after which the oil is bottled.

Experience an official tuscany tour with

Guided Tour of Accademia Gallery and Skip-the-Line tickets: The David and Stradivarius

A 70-minutes small group tour features an English-speaking guide who will accompany you on an exciting brief journey. You will be able to see one of the museum’s jewels, the collection of musical instruments in the Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini. This section includes an original Stradivarius from 1690 and the first modern piano, which was invented in Florence.

from 50,83 US Dollar

Essence of Chianti Small Group Tour with Lunch and Tastings from Florence

Discover the real essence of the Tuscan countryside, driving through amazing postcard views; departing from Florence, in a small group of max 15 participants, that means top comfort and quality, you will see Greve in Chianti, you will have a guided visit to 3 of the best wine estate, you will enjoy a genuine Tuscan lunch, and you will taste and compare different wines, olive oil and other typical products. This unique experience will finish with your trip back to Florence in the afternoon.

from 164,67 US Dollar

Balloons Flight over Tuscany

An unforgettable experience that you cannot miss! in the early morning, you can jump inside the basket of the balloon and you can admire the beauty of the Tuscan countryside before to reach the sky over Florence.

from 884,14 US Dollar

Private Tour to Siena and Montalcino from Florence

If you are looking for beautiful sceneries, medieval city and excellent wines, this tour is for you. Start by visiting the marvelous Gothic town of Siena with its unique Campo square (where the famous Palio is run). Then proceed towards Montalcino, a small medieval town situated on a hill dominated by the fourteenth-century fortress, in the countryside surrounding the town the famous "Brunello" wineyards. Stop in one of the renowned wineries and enjoy visiting their cellar and tasting their great wines.

from 663,11 US Dollar
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