The 48th iteration of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil Festival, from October 30 to November 1, showcases Reggello’s star product of the autumn season. This long awaited fair, delayed from last year due to COVID, has arrived sooner than expected since climate change has shifted the harvest. The lesser amount of olive oil in Tuscany this year is a result of various setbacks, which included a cold spell during the spring and a lack of rain during the summer. Regardless, the occasion promises top-of-the-line extra virgin olive oil in a period when visitors to the area can cut out the middleman and purchase products at a fairer price. At the festival, guests will also be treated to a wide range of activities, from cooking shows, to guided tastings, to tours of the olive oil estates by bus, foot or bike.
All of this and more can be found at Piazza Aldo Moro between 10 am and 9 pm on each day. Entry is free along with all of its initiatives, including tastings; oil, from the market, however, needs to be purchased separately. The event follows health regulations, so visitors will need to present a Green Pass (or their country’s equivalent) to attend.
The event presents an opportunity to step beyond the streets and architecture of Florence, to catch the sight of Tuscany’s autumn hilltop colors and traditions. The extra virgin olive oil from Reggello is quite notable for its quality. The altitude at which the olives are grown is found at 300 meters (nearly 1000 ft.) which, when combined with the high quality local soil, rich in quartz and lime-free, means that there are less pests to deal with and normally an abundant harvest each year. The lengthy process of cold pressing the olive paste, which several producers still do, gives it a low acidity along with its categorization as “extra virgin.”
The first day, October 30, will host the inauguration ceremony at 10:30 am, which will be accompanied by the music group called “Sarabanda.” Following this, producers will sell their brand new oil from their stands until 9 pm on each day. 11 am will see the premiere of a book titled “Emilio l’Olivo,” a children’s story presented by Silvia Tozzi from the Istituto Comprensivo di Reggello. Two cooking demonstrations will see Reggello’s olive oil be put to use with Gustò Bistrò at 11:30 am and Paolo Ghinassi at 6:30 pm. The Cooking Space will also be used for discussions about the olive oil industry; these talks will take place at 12:30, 4 and 5 pm. A shuttle bus will take off at 3 pm to visit the mills and learn about the oil making process. Reservations will need to be made for this tour by contacting 055 8669236.
The next couple of days will see similar events to Saturday, with some variety in activities to encourage repeat visits. These include the making and tasting of gelato made with olive oil, stands featuring organic food products from the area including the famous zolfino bean plus a 5 km (3mi) eco-walk to help clean the environment. Many of these participatory events will require registrations. For more details on the festival’s program, check out the event page, along with the brochure with timetables for the events and how to register for each one. (nelson matos)