Subtle sophistication: Trentino extra virgin olive oil, the surprise that delights
The northern tip of Lake Garda is the heartland of some of Italy’s finest extra virgin olive oil
Picture a land sprinkled with picturesque villages, lakeside beaches and intimate coves. A land of natural parks and reserves stretching into mountains of peerless beauty. A place for relaxing walks in the midst of nature, discovering hotspots of history and culture. Lake Garda is all this and more.
Even though we’re a little way north here, the climate is mild and temperate. In this Mediterranean microclimate, the mitigating influence of the expanse of water takes the edge off both the summer heat and the winter cold. We’re above the 46th parallel, squeezed between Lake Garda and the Dolomites, at altitudes of 70–850 metres above sea level.
This “Mediterranean” corner of Trentino is home to some thriving flora. The landscape is littered with oleanders and palm trees, cypresses and vines. And the olive trees yield an oil that takes pride of place in the kitchens of the finest chefs for its prized qualities: a vegetable-green colour with golden glints, a delicate fragrance with notes of almond and artichoke, and a smooth, fruity flavour that is rich yet light and balanced.
This oil comes mainly from the Casaliva variety, which thrives in the local microclimate. The Romans introduced it 2000 years ago from Tuscany to the sunny slopes and terraces by the lake. Today, the ancient groves of centuries-old plants are tended by producers with a respect for tradition and a sensitivity to local identity. They look after the landscape, taking care of the environment and biodiversity in a labour of love that reaps what it sows come the end of the year.
The olives are harvested from November to January. It’s a time of celebration, bringing families together as everyone lends a hand, an eagerly awaited moment when the farmers’ toil earns its reward, not least with a hearty snack. It’s a job that demands commitment and dedication but offers joy – for the first fruits of the harvest and the new oil, wondering how good it will be and how it will taste.
The unique qualities of the extra virgin olive oil from northern Lake Garda are the noblest expression of the farmers’ dedication to their land and their respect for the natural order. Extra virgin olive oil’s remarkable qualities lie in its chemical make-up. The high levels of oleic acid and antioxidants (polyphenols and tocopherols, like vitamin E) are highly prized nutritionally and make for a product that keeps well.
These specific properties were revealed by the Mach Foundation at the Agricultural Institute in San Michele all’Adige: their analyses also show that an extra virgin olive oil can be traced back to Trentino through traits entwined with the geographical and climatic conditions in the northern Garda area.
Local producers have won many national and international accolades. First and foremost, the European Union has awarded PDO status to certify the product origin. This is granted only to superior-quality extra virgin olive oils cultivated in line with traditional local practices.
- Agraria Riva del Garda
Loc. S. Nazzaro - 4 Riva del Garda
T. +39 0464 552133
- Madonna delle Vittorie
Via Linfano, 81 38062 - Arco
T. +39 0464 505432
Via Maso Belli 1/B, 38066 - Riva del Garda
T. +39 0464 715344
Some of our extra virgin olive oils have won national Slow Food Presidium status. To qualify, farmers must use locally indigenous olive cultivars without synthetic fertilisers or chemical herbicides, and 80+% of the plants must be at least 100 years old.