Yesterday heralded a glorious cloudless blue sky and warm sunshine and the final day of the olive harvest here at Bellaugello Gay Guest-House in Umbria, central Italy.
The Apennnes glistened bright with a dusting of snow on their summits from the recent snowfall. The Chiascio valley filled with birdsong in the golden hued oak trees, and we set to work to pick olives from the trees below Belluagello House. Accompanied by Milo, Edo and Jenny we trotted off to harvest the final trees. These trees are a little bit wild and un-pruned, but this year heavy with olives that I just could not resist picking even if it was a bit of a challenge. It seemed a shame to leave these delightful black and deep red fruit to fall to the ground, the dogs all looked on in wonder as ‘dad’ climbed higher and higher showering olives down on them and the pickers below!
The delight of climbing a ladder high into the branches of the olive trees, warm sun on my back and sensual shiny black fruit coming easily from the branches and falling into the net below is hard to describe, but was one of the pleasanter farming jobs of recent days.
Tomorrow the olives go for pressing to the frantoio,where they will turn as if by magic into wonderous green piquant oil, and yes we will be eating bruschetta brushed with garlic and our own Bellaugello Olive Oil by that evening. However not all, as we have reserved some particularly fine large specimens for salting. Following a traditional recipe thirty days of washing the olives are followed by salting and then flavouring, the resultant olives to be served with aperitivos sipped here on the sun filled terraces next summer, a perfect accompaniment for the local Grechetto, the crisp white wine of Umbria.