Olives of the Roman Countryside
If you could fly like a bird over the campagna romana where it fades toward the hills, you would see it clothed in a broad, silvery gray cloak of olive leaves. Those trees are the pride of all Italy’s oil production.
For the ancient Italic peoples, the olive tree symbolized not only the fertility of humans and of the earth but also peace and a serene life. Thus, it easy to understand why this plant has traveled the centuries clothed in an aura of sacredness. The oil produced by its fruit was an essential food on poor tables, ever since the time of republican Rome; its oil served to light the lamps, its dregs were a good fertilizer, and its wood, considered precious, could be burned only on the altar of the gods. And the olive tree is indissolubly linked to the advance of Mediterranean civilization. In the imperial period, the tables of the Roman gourmands made a distinction between the sapid oils of Sabina and the lighter oils of Liguria¹The strong, heavy oils from Spain and North Africa were primarily used to fill lamps.