BY GIOVANNI SALVIETTI
In autumn, when the trees undress themselves, and let their leaves fall, as if they were daughters making light silk dresses for themselves, the olive tree bears its fruits created with difficulty in a long-awaited gestation. Thanks to an ancient process of transformation its liquid gold is distilled: extra virgin olive oil, replete with all its wonderful nutritional, antioxidant and purifying properties.
The Mayor of Castellina in Chianti, Marcello Bonechi, along with his Cultural Counsellor Susanna Viviani and the Municipal Administration sponsor many projects and ideas for the promotion and protection of the area, in particular the local extra virgin olive oil and its producers. The territory has two oil denominations: ‘DOP del Chianti Classico’ and ‘Toscano IGP’. Marcello Bonechi is the deputy chairman of the Oil Towns Association, founded 26 years ago. At present it has 330 members nationwide, mostly public bodies and medium to small municipalities along with four chambers of commerce. The association, in addition to the protection and promotion of this historic product, takes care to bring olive culture to elementary schools with the ‘Bimboil’ project: every year a different theme is offered for new ideas. Thus the creative minds of children have the task not only of learning but also of developing new ideas. The competition culminates with a merit award given by a ministerial jury.
Another great achievement of the association has been the approval of the law on the use of extra virgin olive oil in public enterprises in packaging with anti-filler tops, in order to combat counterfeiting, often facilitated by substituting inferior oil compared to that indicated on the original label. Another important matter was the agreement signed between the Region of Tuscany and the Oil Cities Association, including all the regional DOPs, to avoid the abandonment of olive groves, in an agreement between land owners, Region and Ente Terre. The conditions were thus created for the transfer of groves to neighbouring farms and the creation of cooperatives was also stimulated. It then carried out a survey to evaluate the state of health of the trees, treating them and making them productive again.
Bonechi emphasises: “Olive oil production cannot stand still, it must be properly managed.” Susanna Viviani adds that the RDP (Regional Development Plan) encourages the planting of new olive groves in disadvantaged areas, because the oil is primarily a social and cultural value. The Administration has also signed an agreement with the local ‘Virginia Bolgheri’ nursing home to use oils derived solely from the Castellina in Chianti area. A great success in recent years has been ‘Olive Trees’, a walk precisely amongst the olive trees held on the 25th of October each year, aimed at the promotion of the area and where the well-being induced by a walk is combined with information about olive oil from the producers. At the end all participants enjoy a tasting of new oil and local wine.
Last year this event was also supported by a short tasting course to educate consumers about the difference between low and high quality oils and this too received a good response from people. The Mayor and the Counsellor will propose further projects and ideas to educate, create networks and maintain strong values in the quest for excellence of the area’s product, also appreciated worldwide for its uses in cosmetics, healing and therapies.
Info: Castellina in Chianti Tourist Office, Via Ferruccio 40 / tel. 0577 741392 / mob. 360 1094942 / firstname.lastname@example.org