'EXVALSE', 'Operation/Project co-financed by the Tuscan Por Fesr 2014-2020'

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The new oilve oil traditions in Tuscany

Suggestions to get to know this excellent product in Valdichiana Senese, in southern Tuscany

The one linked to olive oil is one of the most deeply rooted traditions in southern Tuscany. In Valdichiana Senese, the green and then yellow gold, fruit of the olive groves that decorate the hills of the area, is much more than a typical product. Here, oil is popular culture, well-being and community. So, a trip to Valdichiana Senese in the "nòvo" oil season means coming into contact with the deepest essence of this land and of those who live here.

A tradition that comes from afar

The cultivation of oil in the Siena area dates back to a very long time ago. The olive tree is present in the works of art and paintings of the late Middle Ages inspired by these places, just think of the famous fresco depicting the battle of Valdichiana, painted in the fourteenth century by Lippo Vanni and today visible in the Sala del Mappamondo of the Palazzo Pubblico (town hall) in Siena. The local olive oil tradition is expressed today in the many small family-run companies and oil mills active in the area, with producers who revisit and renew the production techniques of their ancestors.

New olive oil in Valdichiana Senese

Valdichiana Senese, with its clayey soil and gentle hilly slopes, offers a privileged habitat for olive oil cultivation. The green gold produced here is characterized by two important organoleptic qualities: bitterness and pinch. These attributes are typical of high quality oils and are generated by polyphenols, important antioxidants that slow down oxidation, i.e. the aging of our body's cells. So, in a thermal land like the Valdichiana Senese, in which attention to personal care is a "natural" destiny, oil is the main ingredient not only for the local diet, but also for wellness treatments.

Moments that "make" the new oil

The olive harvest is a moment that unites families and communities in the area. Adults and children gather on the hills of Vadichiana Senese, covered with large sheets that accumulate the green and black fruits of the olive grove. Afterwards, people move to the oil mill to press the harvest; local growers gather there, from professionals in the field to those who take care of their olive grove as a pastime, exchanging impressions on the new oil production for the year. And if traditions do not change from one place to another in the Valdichiana Senese area, the timing of the harvest is different: in some places, such as Trequanda, you can taste the new oil from mid-October, while elsewhere people wait until late November.

Olive oil in the local kitchens

The freshly produced olive oil, with its intense flavour, enters the kitchens of Valdichiana Senese as soon as it is bottled. There are many traditional Tuscan and local dishes whose character is enriched by this precious condiment: not only bruschetta, which allows you to taste the oil "in purity", but also preparations that involve the combination with vegetables and meat. Among the best-known vegetarian dishes of Tuscan cuisine, we think of panzanella or ribollita, simple dishes made of bread and vegetables, whose flavor is enhanced by good quality oil. For those who prefer more substantial foods, the highly prized Chianina meat, whether served raw as a tartare or seared on the grill as a steak, also pairs perfectly with the new oil tasting notes.

The occasions to taste new oil in Valdichiana Senese

Between October and November, there are many moments to learn more about this excellent local product, through experiences and events. For those who approach Tuscan oil with an almost "analytical" curiosity, local producers will be able to offer you a real olive oil tasting lesson with dedicated visits to their oil mills. For those looking for an authentic oil-themed experience, the advice is to treat yourself to a lunch among the olive trees: a meal that conveys ideal Tuscan conviviality. Tasting moments in contact with local communities are also the basis of the events dedicated to new oil productions taking place in the area: the Festa dell'olio novo, from 13 to 22 October in Trequanda.