Updated: Mar 12
The medieval town of Picinisco, Italy is located at 725 metres above sea level. Your head is literally in the clouds. On clear days from the top of the mountain you can see both the Adriatic and the Mediterranean Seas. Nestled in Val Di Comino, province of Frosinone in the region of Lazio. Only an hour and a half drive from Rome and almost the same to Naples.
I was very excited to be visiting such a scenic and historic area. My love of olives and olive oil was taking me on an adventure to seek out the olive oil process.
The adventure started in Edinburgh with the flight to Ciampino airport taking only three hours. Ciampino airport is just twenty minutes outside Rome. Ryan Air has three flights a week. I wasn’t so sure about driving in Italy, so I opted for the leisurely train option between Ciampino and Cassino, although I would recommend hiring a car. Once out of Rome you need a car to explore the region. The bus runs fairly frequently from the airport to the Ciampino train station. At a bargain of one euro twenty for the five minute journey beating the inflated taxi prices. Upon arriving at the train station the Biglietto (ticket) machine is easy to operate and has an English translation. A single adult ticket fare only seven euros for the two hour journey. The two level train was comfortable, with big windows to see the small villages and lush scenery as we went speedily on by. There is no on board catering but a small tobacconist shop at the railway station. However this is closed on a Sunday.
Upon arrival in Cassino the pre-booked taxi transfer was waiting to take me the final forty minute leg of the journey to Sotto le stelle, Picinisco. The Mercedes was luxurious and very comfortable, taking in the windy roads, some very steep, getting to higher than sea level heights. The transfer can be pre-booked via www.sottolestellepicinisco.com each way costing forty euros.
The olive farming takes place during the months of October till November depending on the weather throughout the year and also during harvest. The olive harvest usually lasting only a few days with all hands on deck. The right time to pick the olives are when the colouration is both green and black. Here at Olie J. Ciacca the trees on the farm are aged between twenty and eighty years old and like most plants are susceptible to insects. Being all organic the trees are sprayed with sulphur and copper, elements naturally found in the ground.
The different olive varieties are Leccina, Marina, Moraiola and Itrana. Here the olive is farmed for olive oil.
The olives are picked both by hand and also using an olive picker, a hand held rotating machine. The olives are collected in the nets or in umbrellas, and then distributed in to crates.
The crates then taken by tracker to the sorting machine.
The sorting machine then takes out all of the leaves, leaving only the olives to be taken to be pressed.
Once at the press the olives are washed, and the skins and seeds removed and finally any water which has been absorbed through the process leaving the pure oil which is then bottled. The aroma throughout the process is uplifting and sweet. The oil on warm toasted bread with a glass of wine is delicious! I was surprised to see how lengthy and labour intensive the process is; it is a real labour of love at Ollie J. Ciacca.
The organic produce can be purchased via www.deliziedellavalcominopicinisco.com/