Each cultivar produces golden extra virgin olive oils with an emerald reflection with different organoleptic characteristics: fruity, harmonious on the palate, light.
That "hedge that the gaze excludes from so much horizon" described by the famous poet from Recanati, Giacomo Leopardi (on the left the photo of his statue in the square of the same name), in his composition "The Infinite" is also the expanse of olive trees that still today embraces the sacredness of Loreto and then plunges into the Adriatic sea where "shipwreck is sweet to me ".
L'olive tree from the Marche region it is also the constituent of the landscape that the writer Guido Piovene designates a synthesis of all the landscapes of the world. But, although many are persuaded that the Romans brought it between Monte Catria and Monte Vettore, it is doubtful that Ancona, a Syracusan colony, dates back to the 4th century BC. and certainly the Etruscans had penetrated, allies or even relatives of the Picenes, well before that beyond the Apennines.
The mythology of the olive tree from the Marche region
The olive tree in the Marche manifests itself in all its character agricultural and mythological value. In fact, it is said that Athena gave it to men as a pact of peace, as medicine, light and nourishment. And perhaps these hills are the territory where the plant took on its sacredness for the Mediterranean, so much so that it was then adopted by Christians and Jews as a symbol of the divine. There is no abbey – and in the Marches there are many of haunting beauty, such as Fonte Avellana in Chiaravalle di Fiastra – where the monks have not marked the territory with the olive tree or have taught the farmers to respect and exploit it. In the Marche region, in fact, the olive tree is the most widespread, so much so that they are beyond 27 thousand companies who cultivate it, covering 7 thousand hectares in the strip that goes from the hill to the sea.
The only DOP of the Marche
The Marches have valleys that run perpendicular to the coast and each has its own cultivar, thus making the territorial differences gastronomic diversity. Just think of the Ascoli style olives, a casket of drupe that hides a treasure of spices, cheese and noble meats, or alle bruschetta and desserts from Macerata based on extra virgin olive oil. But, even if these are the provinces with the highest cultivation density, it is up to Pesaro-Urbino the primacy of denominations. It is in fact a Cartoceto, enchanting village, the only PDO from the Marche region precious, unique testimony of how the extra virgin olive oil of the Marche benefits from the cultivation of the olive tree in medium altitude with the temperature variations that increase the formation of perfumes.
The other cultivars
From Vallefoglia to Lucrezia, going down to Bellocchi up to Fano, the Augustan Fanum Fortunae is a drapery of hills and olive trees. Central-Italic cultivars such as Leccino and the Crusher join in blend with the Ray to give a golden gold with emerald reflections, marked hints of green apple, armellina, mowing with a very slight influence of artichoke. But it is a fruity between light and medium, which stands out raw, especially when it meets the warmth of soups or the Fano-style brodetto, praise to the fish. And, like all extra virgin olive oils from the Marche region, not having a strong acidity, it is particularly harmonious on the palate.
The Marche PGI
And if Cartoceto enhances its olive groves after obtaining the DOP mark, the whole region has bet on the gold of the table, oil, writing 3 years ago the disciplinary of the Marches PGI. In fact, on the territory they are produced on average 38 thousand quintals of extra virgin olive oil, a rarity for three valid reasons: the oil is extracted from 10 cultivars, although there are 34 in the Region, so much so that the production of monovarietal oils; the northern position allows for an endemic olive tree cultivation and this would explain the very low acidity, given that the olives undergo strong thermal excursions and are born in various territories; there is an oil mill for each village, of which 175 are in operation. And to testify to its rarity and exceptional quality is the same story: in Ferrara at customs the oil from the Marche was twice as good as the others, in Venice even a separate register was kept.
From left: the beating of the olives in the Gabrielloni olive grove; ripe olives
The primates of the Marche
The records of the Marche are many and different, but we report at least three: the most important industry of production of olive growing machines in the world; this is where the scientific research of two universities – the Ancona Polytechnic for what concerns cultivation and production and the University of Camerino for the nutritional-pharmacological study – acted as a quality accelerator; was born in the Marche region on oil tourism, since every itinerary that climbs the hills meets extra virgin olive oil as a viaticum.
Harvesting in the Gabrielloni olive grove and washing of the olives
Marche oil is "woman"
Then there is another peculiarity: the oil in the Marche is a woman. The reason? It was up to the "vergara”(Ie the wife of the sharecropper, the one who administered, the custodian of empirical agricultural science and gastronomy) to hoard. And still today it is women who manage the oil mills, since extra virgin olive oil is considered a value of the countryside. Like the sisters (in the photo on the left) Elisabetta, Sonia and Gabriella Gabrielloni who manage the family oil mill in Recanati.
A cultivar for each village
There are villages like Mogliano and Falerone that have their own cultivar (il Piantone), territories such as the Valle del Tronto that are recognized in the tender and hard olive Ascolana, cities that are characterized as Fermo with an olive, the Sargano, areas like those that from Macerata go to Camerino who live in Mignola, di Raggia, valleys such as the beautiful Esina which is the Rosciola deposit. All these cultivars are the sensory scan of the IGP specification.
Two extraction techniques
There is also another peculiarity in the Marche: here they coexist two oil extraction techniques. In fact, there are those who work with fiscoli (special baskets where the olive paste obtained from the grinding is collected and then stacked and pressed), arguing that in this way there is more roundness of the oil and those who rely on oil mills that look like spaceships, where the extraction takes place by mechanical and centrifugal kneading to avoid oxidative processes and have more fragrant oil.
Oil, the sap of a wise land
A journey into the extra virgin olive oil of these lands is for those who love cooking a master of the senses: it is here that you learn that the spicy of a Rosciola, the sweet of an Ascolana, the fruity of an Orbetana enrich the dish, complete it. , they inform him of themselves. The oil of the Marche it is never a condiment, it is always an ingredient. With the smiles of girls who have returned to the earth because they are fascinated by oil, the expertise of three sisters of the Gabrielloni Frantoio who perpetuate an ancient family tradition, the experience of those who graze – between the end of September and mid-November – the drupes still by hand or with "combs" that respect the plants, it turns out that the extra virgin is there lymph of health: for the antioxidant polyphenols, for the vitamins, for the good fats it contains. And it is the fruit of a wise land: the Marche.
November 2021, curated by Monica Pilotto, text by Carlo Cambi, photos by Francesca Moscheni
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