Near Bevagna, a Family Unites for the Olive Harvest
Quiz for the day: what is a “trunk-shaker with a reversed umbrella interceptor”?
Here it is:
It’s the mechanized tool used by the Trabalza-Marinucci family to harvest the olives of their three thousand trees in the Bevagna-area hills. Thanks to mechanization, this family and their workers (five people in all) can harvest the olives in approximately five weeks.
Young Giulia Trabalza-Marinucci told me recently that the mezzadri (tenant farmers) working their lands for her great-grandfather decades ago would finish the olive harvest in about four months. Giulia and her brother, Francesco…
….now oversee their farmland of nearly five hundred acres – w9rking along with their father, Guido:
And this family does not just produce olive oil – and offer farmhouse hospitality – but they also produce fine wines, too, including the prized Sagrantino wine starring an indigenous grape which grows in an area limited to about one thousand acres in the Montefalco/Bevagna/ Giano dell’Umbria area.
On a recent visit to La Fonte, Francesco was picking olives along with their workers. He was using an olive-harvester – called the “abbattitore” or “knocker-down” in italiano – to comb down the olives into the plastic tarpaulins snugly surrounding the olive trees, stretched out by the long metal arms of the trunk shaker:
Another worker drove the trunk-shaker while a few helpers also combed olives from branches into the plastic tarpaulins surrounding the trees, spread out by the trunk-shaker:
Francesco and Giulia wanted us to taste their just-pressed olive oil, a veritable “liquid gold.”
After we’d enjoyed the bruschetta drizzled with the family’s olio nuovo (“new olive oil”), Francesco served us a bruschetta topped with pancetta di cinta senese, a twinkle in his eye, visible over his mask, for his pleasure in serving us this surprise.
The bacon he proudly brought to the table comes from a prized breed of pigs raised in Tuscany, the cinta senese – and Francesco had heated it slightly in the oven and then, logicamente, drizzled a touch of their olive oil on top.
Their superb Sagrantino had to accompany all:
After an abundant snack of La Fonte goodness, Francesco proudly gave me a tour of their wine cellar, pointing out the giant casks full of Sagrantino (which must age at least three years before being sold):
Giulia also wanted me to see the crocus petals for the saffron that the family also produces….
….and their saffron:
On a shelf nearby, a few bottles of their olive oils – and small tins as well – were on display. I couldn’t help but think that those small tins of olive oil would certainly be perfect place-setters or favors at a special event.
For me, that visit to La Fonte – and the warm and welcoming hospitality of Francesco and his sister, Giulia – was October’s special event.
Read more here about the Trabalza Marinucci family wine, olive oil production – and farmhouse stay.
Click here to read more about harvesting olives in Umbria, then and now
Read about Assisi’s November UNTO festival, celebrating the olive harvest
Click here to read about Spello’s Festa dell’Olio e della Bruschetta
Read here about how ancient peoples used olive oil for illumination
Read about other ancient treasures of Umbria’s “liquid gold”