The olive harvest & our extra virgin olive oil
“And with the sprig of a fruited olive, man is purified in extreme health.” – Virgil, Aeneid
It is that time of year again when everyone starts talking about the new extra virgin olive oil, what it will taste like this year and when will it be ready.
Settignano Tuscany Homes accommodations are surrounded by over 1000 olive trees and we are very proud to say we produce one of the better olive oils of the region.
We start picking by the end of October, early November as the ripeness of the olives at the time of harvest ultimately determines how the oil will taste. Farmers and local producers become very passionate about discussing when that perfect moment will be.
Our olive oil production follows the traditional techniques by spreading out nets under the olive groves on the property, for a long time instead of nets we used to use old silk parachutes from WWII, which you can still find in some farms. The olives are then raked down by hand or with a metallic arm that delicately shakes the branches so that the ripe fruits fall on the net. The crop is freshly pressed within 24h to obtain an olive oil that retains all its organoleptic properties; when we take our daily harvest to the mill (frantoio) we get to finally taste the bright green olive oil with its pungent fragrance that immediately captures the palate and inebriates the nose.
How do we make our olive oil?
This ancient ritual of the olive oil production, which goes back to Etruscan times, to our family is most of all a moment, during our busy lives, when we all get together, with friends and neighbors, and finally soak up the rural beauty of the breathtaking Tuscan countryside. For lunch we light a fire in the fields, burning old olive tree wood so that the panino con la salsiccia ends up having a special aroma. Everything circles back to that great special small gift of nature that is the Tuscan olive oil. In the words of Alain Ducasse: “If my cuisine were to be defined by just one taste, it would be that of subtle, aromatic, extra-virgin olive oil.”
What are the characteristics of our olive oil?
“Sesta Ora” – is made from the very first pressing of Moraiolo and Frantoiano olives grown on the property, as we strongly believe in preserving the high quality of our unique territorial characterization. The dark glass bottles protect from the light and help preserve the polyphenolic substance and vitamins as well as maintain the fresh fragrances of this special Italian olive oil longer.
The name “Sesta Ora” takes us back to the way the ancient Romans calculated time and the importance of the otium after the negotium. Otium is the time when we cease from active work and value the importance of resting, nurturing the spirit and the soul, when we dedicate our energies to contemplation and academic endeavors. It’s a moment with profound intellectual and virtuous implications which in turn positively impacts the negotium (the daily business and practical, active work).
The first hour and the next wears out those making salutationes,
The third keeps the hoarse lawyers busy,
Into the fifth, Rome spends various labors,
The sixth is rest for the weary, the seventh will be the end thereof,
The eighth into the ninth is employed in the glittering palaestras.
The ninth commands that we slam the piled cushions:
The tenth is the hour, Euphemus, of my little books. (Martial. Ep. 4.8.1-7)