The Olive Oil Route in Calabria

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The Olive Oil Route in Calabria

“The green gold” in Calabria holds the same importance as bread and wine. Every part of the olive represents a primary source of use. Wood, olives, leaves, and oil are a bridge between the past and the future. Calabria ranks second among the largest Italian olive oil producers, with a production of about 180,000 tons, accounting for 21% of the national production. Visiting the olive mills in October and November means combining taste, nature, art, and culture.


The start of our itinerary this month is set on an inviting hill overlooking the Ionian Sea. Cariati is part of the territory covered by the disciplinary of the “DOP Bruzio Joniche Presilane Hills” and boasts areas rich in vegetation and wonderful promontories. It is in this context that the Greco family has been operating for over 60 years producing oil and wine. Among the various oils produced, the “Extra Virgin Olive Oil iGreco D.O.P. Joniche Presilane Hills” stands out. It is produced exclusively with “Dolce di Rossano” olives and with the traditional cold pressing method. Perfect on salads and boiled vegetables or raw on any dish, it also gives a hint of sweet almonds to the palate. The iGreco farm is available to tourists and enthusiasts alike; visiting it is almost a must when passing through Cariati. Immediately after, it’s worth getting lost in the characteristic old town of the village. It still retains the appearance of a medieval fortification with an intact city wall, composed of eight towers overlooking the sea.


Driving south along the Ionian coast, you will cross the wonderful Costa dei Saraceni as you enter the province of Crotone. Inland, you can head to Verzino where the “La Fratta” oil mill produces “DOP Alto Crotonese” oil from “Carolea” variety olives. One of the characteristics of this product is its particular color that distinguishes it from others. Ranging from straw yellow to light green, it emits a very delicate aroma and a rather fruity flavor. Nothing particularly pronounced, however. It is perfect if you intend to taste it raw on a warm bread bruschetta. This is because its organoleptic and nutritional properties make it one of the lightest in the entire Calabria.


Once in Crotone, you can easily feel transported back in time, into the heart of Magna Graecia. Founded in the 7th century BC, it boasts a millennia-old history. It is kissed by the sea, has enchanting cliffs and beaches, and a historic center that unfolds through its narrow alleys to Piazza Pitagora. The famous philosopher to whom the square is dedicated founded his school right in the city. His theories had a huge influence on the development of modern thought, mathematics, and sciences because he was the first to understand the effectiveness of arithmetic in describing the world. In Crotone, he elaborated, for example, the famous Pythagorean theorem. The Cathedral houses the famous Black Madonna, while the Castle of Charles V dominates the surrounding landscape from the hill. From its walls, you can see the stretch of sea from Punta Alice to Capo Colonna where the only remaining column of the 48 that made up the Temple of Hera Lacinia is preserved. Standing more than 8 meters tall, it is the symbol of the city. The Archaeological Museum of Crotone is one of the most important in Calabria, where the artifacts of ancient Kroton are preserved, including the diadem of Hera Lacinia: a crown made of a gold sheet weighing 122 grams and of exquisite workmanship.


To reach Lamezia Terme from Catanzaro, you have to change coastlines and switch to the Tyrrhenian one. You can do this by driving just 35 km west. Waiting for you is the Podere D’Ippolito where, for five generations now, the D’Ippolito family has been transforming the olives collected from their 60 hectares of olive groves into “DOP Lametia” extra virgin olive oil. From the coast of the Phaeacians, you can admire the Aeolian Islands or choose to experience the excitement of kitesurfing or windsurfing. To rest, it is ideal to visit the spas that give the city its name. They have been known since Roman times for the beneficial effects of their waters and sulphurous muds, which naturally flow at a temperature of 39 degrees.


Gerace is located at the southernmost tip of Calabria, overlooking the Ionian Sea of Reggio. There stands the “Barone G.R. Macrì” estate, scattered with olive groves, vineyards, and citrus groves. The company mainly produces olives, organic extra virgin olive oil “IGP Calabria,” from the “Grossa di Gerace” variety, but also citrus fruits, cheeses, vegetables, and honey. Here, you can stop for lunch at the restaurant and taste the organic products of the farm.


The final stop of our itinerary is only 20 km away and represents the endpoint. The MUSABA of Mammola is an unexpected and truly original open-air museum of contemporary art. In the “Focus Cultura” section, we will introduce you to this incredible place that a tourist would expect to find in the center of Barcelona or on the ultra-modern streets of Berlin. The singularity, however, is that it is hidden among the hills and olive trees of the Calabrian hinterland and then reveals itself in all its magnificence.

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