When I think of Italy, I think of its flavors: creamy gelato, yummy wine, handmade pasta, crunchy bread and of course, its olive oil. Despite living here for years I still felt like I didn’t understand much about this staple of Italian cuisine so on a Friday morning I joined Convivio Rome’s olive oil tour and got the chance to experience the stunning Sabine Hills, a more rugged kind of Tuscany right on Rome’s doorstep, an easy train ride from the city, and famous for its olio d’oliva.
The word convivium is from Latin and means feasting or living together and that is just the philosophy of the couple who run Convivio Rome. Guido is an 8th generation Italian and Sally is a transplant from Australia who came to Rome for a month and ended up staying more than a decade! Over the course of four hours, Guido and Sally shared with us their passion for good food, the Italian countryside, and a way of life that is based on sharing and community, just like the olive oil tradition.
Picking olives was a time when families and communities came together, sharing in the work and a large communal lunch in the shade of the olive trees. In fact there is little evidence on how to cultivate olives in Sabina because it’s all simply been passed down by word of mouth. In my opinion, this is still the best way to learn about olive oil.
I learned how olive oil is made and what is characteristic of a good olive oil. I also got to visit Europe’s oldest olive tree, explore an organic oliveto (olive farm), talk to the farmers, and taste some fruity, peppery olive oil drizzled over simple white bread. Of course I brought some home with me and every time I uncork the bottle and get a whiff of olives I remember walking through sun soaked olive groves and the delightful company and extensive knowledge of our guides with Convivio Rome.
What can you enjoy with Convivio Rome? Visit the website www.conviviorome.com and send an e-mail to Guido and Sally to book one of their tours:
1. Olive Oil Tour I went on
2. Cooking Holidays: Half day, full day, or a 3 or 5 night excursion in Toffia, the oldest town in the region where you can learn how to cook Italian style and experience local life.
3. Wine Tour