“Tre Cancelle”

“Tre Cancelle Farmhouse and Olive Groves”

Immersed in the greenery of the Italian Countryside of  Itri in South Lazio

The November 2012 Olive Harvest is well underway ....                  (page 4)

From the end of October or the olive groves around Itri are a hive of activity, with the cheery banter of workers laughing and jesting whilst preparing for the olive harvest, strimming grass and weeds and trimming and burning suckers.  Little apes (pronouncedAh-Pays”, which translated literally mean “bees”) – small three wheeler vans noisily buzz and rattle along the local lanes, sometimes with a husband and generously proportioned wife cosily crammed inside the tiny driving cab.

By November many of the “Itrana” olives have grown round and plump and are gradually turning from bright green to dappled pink. These produce the much sought after “Early Harvest” Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Green Table Olives.




The  nets are carefully  spread out on the ground, around  the trees.  Traditionally small  hand-held rakes were used  to comb through the branches laden with olives. This is an easy enough method  for the lower branches, but rather more tricky on the lofty ones.  Nowadays, vibrating mechanical rakes are often used to dislodge the fruit from the higher reaches.  These are powered by an air compressor, driven by a small petrol engine, and are connected by a long flexible pneumatic hose to the compressor’s air reservoir. There are a variety of tools that can be attached to the end of the hose, but for harvesting olives there is the “machinetta”, a mechanical shaker which has a pair of vibrating clappers, mounted on a telescopic aluminium pole, which can be extended to a maximum length of about four metres.

However, as the tumbling fruits are raining down I, Louise, still prefer to work by hand on the lower branches, detaching the olives by gently running my fingers over the fronds, popping of the colourful drupes - a task I find enormously satisfying.   In addition I usually scramble about under the trees to  collect any olives that have bounced off the nets.  

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Page 5 - The Olive Harvest