The Olive Oil Route of Umbria

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Luxury Italy tours which include the Olive Oil Route of Umbria.

Luxury Italy toursUmbria Located between Rome and Florence is known as the “green heart of Italy”.  It gets this name for its incredible and unspoilt natural beauty.  Among the green hills, stand the countless olive trees which well represent the spirit and traditions of this region.

The olive tree a long living  and slow growing plant reflects the intrinsic nature of Umbria to preserve old traditions handed down with care from generation to generation. The flavorful extra virgin olive oil produced from these trees is part of the local cuisine, characterized by simple wholesome and genuine ingredients.

largeOur “Olive Oil route” drive is a simple but interesting itinerary that will allow you to visit the historical and artistic beauties and three cities of Umbria: Spello, Foligno and Torgiano passing through the charming hills planted with olive trees and old mills.  This route can be traveled throughout the year.  However, the ideal time is during the olive harvest time between late November and early December,  when, it is possible to visit the mills and the taste the new olive oil.  During these days the “Oil Cities of Umbra” organize events and special dinners.

largeBecause of the goodness and uniqueness of its taste, the extra virgin olive Umbro has been awarded the label DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) that certifies the quality of the product. This uniqueness is derived from both a perfect blend of natural and human factors. The olive trees grown in Umbria take advantage of the particular climatic conditions that allow a very slow ripening of the fruit, such as to cause an extremely low acidity.   Particular importance is attributed to the soil in the foothills which is rich and very permeable allowing the roots of the plant to penetrate easily.

The goodness of the Umbro olive oil is partly due to Mother Nature and partly due to the expertise of man.    The olive oil producers do not wait for the natural ageing of the olives; they harvest them during the first days of November when they are just starting to ripen.  At this stage the olives present the maximum fruity flavor and then minimum acidity.   Once all the olives are harvested they are

immediately forwarded to the mill to be processed in the peak of their freshness and integrity.

In Umbria, olive-growing is based on three different olive trees: Moraiolo, Frantoio and Leccino.

Via-Olio-Umbria-mapThe oil produced from moraiolo could be considered one of the best in the world. Unfortunately the plants are very difficult to grow because they suffer the cold. Its fruits have a very tough flesh that resists many days before they perish after harvest and the oil obtained has a fruity and intense flavor with a good blend of spiciness and bitterness making this oil very suitable for raw condiment and toasted bread bruschetta.

The Frantoio olive trees are plants easy to grow and adaptable to different climates. From these plants  comes an excellent fruity and sweet oil, suitable for all dishes, the frantoio oil is often mixed with moraiolo oil to make it less hard and less spicy .

The Leccino olive trees are a beautiful plant to be seen, they resist very well to cold and produce very big fruits, but unfortunately the quality of oil that comes from these plants is not high quality oil.  For this reason in the past it was used more as a pollinator tree in the plantation to increase the productions of the moraiolo and frantoio trees.  The olives of the leccino trees, because of their good taste and big size are used more as fruits than to produce olive oil.

Our itinerary starts in the medieval village of Spello, located just few kilometers south of Perugia and Assisi.  Here in its historical center you have the opportunity to see the artistic, architectural , historical and cultural past of the village.  You will enjoy  getting lost in the various narrow streets as you encounter  the many medieval churches such as St Andrew St. Lorenz and the main Santa Maria Maggiore Church (Duomo) rich with masterpieces from the fifteen and seventeen centuries.

Continue to the nearby Foligno through the hills surrounding  Spello. In this area was born the oldest rural cooperative of the region, with hundreds of small and large olive oil producers.  The variety “moraiolo” is prevalent in this area.   Foligno is a beautiful town that is part of the circuit of  “Oil Cities ”  and it is the third largest city of Umbria. The origins of Foligno are very old, it  was subject to Rome in 295 BC and from the thirteenth century it was annexed to the Papal States . Foligno is also called the city of the “Giostra della Quintana” or the ancient jousting tournament  which still takes place in June and September.

We suggest a visit of the Trinci Palace, built on the north side of the Square of the Republic.  It is a patrician palace with  interesting rooms decorated with paintings from the 1400’s made by Gentile da Fabiano and other artists.  The chapel is covered with beautiful frescoes on the walls and the vault is by Ottaviano Nelli dated 1424.   Inside the Trinci Palace,  you can also visit the Archaeological Museum and the Multimedia Museum of Tournaments.   A journey through time and space with  ancient knights, tournaments, nobles, ladies, games and parties.

The Itinerary continues with a nice drive of 45 minutes in the heart of Umbria passing the villages of Cannara, Campofondo Bettona and arriving in Torgiano.    In this small village of just over 6,000 inhabitants on the top of a hill overlooking the valley where the river Tiber runs, there is a small but beautiful museum dedicated to the tradition and culture of Umbria and in the world for olive oil .

Located inside a renovated old mill,  the museum was founded by the patient and careful research of the Lungarotti family.  Over the years they have collected and exhibited with great care, tools, machines and objects related to olive oil. The museum covers and highlights the story and the many virtues of this precious commodity, prized for centuries for its unique flavor and for its beneficial properties.

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OLIVE OIL MUSEUM HOURS

October to March: Tuesday to Sunday 10am – 1pm / 3pm – 5pm

April to June: Tuesday to Sunday 10am-1pm / 3pm – 6pm

July to September: Monday to Sunday    10am – 6pm

We can help you arrange a visit to beautiful Umbria.  Have a look at our sample tour.

http://www.roadtoitaly.com/food-wine-tours/food-wine-umbria.html