Posts Tagged ‘ Italy

Pick olives in Italy – Fragneto Monforte, Compania

Would you rather pick olives in America or Italy? After weighing the options, I vouched for Italy and found myself in Fragneto Monforte, a small little village (paesce) with family friends, Tina and Michael. I thought all I would do was come pick olives and study my Hebrew textbook, but my two weeks here were better than I ever imagined, and didn’t get to as much of the Hebrew as I had hoped.

After 24 hours of travel from California to Chicago to Munich-Germany to Naples and then a long drive to Fragneto Monforte, I got up the next day, watched Tina (the Chinese-Italian Mama) make an amazing seafood pasta, and went olive picking on the nearby farm. There I met the Venditti family, a fun-loving warm-hearted bunch who embraced me with their big smiles and jovial laughter, and so the adventures began.

Over the course of 12 sunny days, when I wasn’t learning to make Italian cuisine, I joined them almost every day and helped pick olives (cogliere olive). It was hard work, but being out in the brisk mountain air, it was a refreshing experience and I picked olives to my heart’s content. Every day they asked me if I was tired. With the biggest smile, I would always reply, “Nope, not tired! That was fun! See you tomorrow!”

Pretty quickly, I learned lots of Italian words and it all started with my first lesson from Maria “Non lo so. Non ho capito. Ripeti, per favore.” (I don’t know. I don’t understand. Repeat, please.) Every day I learned new phrases and could converse simply by the end of 2 weeks.

But this is what it’s like to pick olives in Fragneto Monforte, Italy. An amazing and unforgettable experience!! I hope I can return some other October and learn how to make wine with the grape harvest. Civediaaaaaaaamooooooo….

Only one way to get to the farm.

Almost at the farm where "work" can begin.

Santino and Giovanni - the dynamic duo.

Black olives, silvery leaves.

Nicola works in the treetops.

So many olives!!

What's a farm without a dog? Diana was really our supervisor.

I picked a whole crate of olives (ok, Maria helped). :)

Santino sends down the treetops and we continue to pick.

I finally graduated from ground floor and got to use the ladder.

Everyone has an olive to pick.

Every so often, it's ok to chill.

Fold the tarp and let's go home.

After the day's harvest, sometimes you find a few lost olives around the far edges of the tarps.

Every day's reward after picking olives. Ci vediamo domani...

After ~30 crates, you spend a day to remove the branches and leaves.

After olives are cleaned they can be sent to the press.

The old farmhouse - storage for olives before they go to the press.

Picking olives is always more fun with friends.

Leaving the farm...until next time.