Itri Olives, Olive Oil & Local Produce
There have been olive groves in Itri dating way back to the Roman era. Itri is noted for the cultivation of olives and the production of an excellent olive oil. Indeed this form of agriculture plays a significant role in the local economy. The Itrana cultivar takes its name from the town. This variety of olive tree only grows in this local area where the fertile hillsides benefit from a mild micro-climate. This is because the Aurunci and Lepini mountains help to keep out cold winds and the area benefits from warm breezes coming off the sea.
Itrana Olives and Olive Oil
Gaeta Olives or Olive di Gaeta
For centuries the Itrana olives have been marketed using the name of Olive di Gaeta. This is due to the fact that they were exported by ship from the nearby port of Gaeta. By the beginning of November the olives are fully formed and are bright green in colour and speckled with pink. These olives can be harvested at this stage to produce green, sometimes also referred to as white table olives. Alternatively they can be transformed into an early harvest fresh and vibrant green olive oil of a superior quality. It is naturally low in acidity, therefore of a superior quality. It also has a wonderful aroma of freshly picked herbs, with an added hint of pepper and is rich in phenols and antioxidants.
Olives that are straight off the tree are inedible. They need to be cured in a brine solution for about six months before they are ready to eat. There is another method of preparing freshly harvested green olives. They are cut or crushed, so as to split the pulp without damaging the core, and are then left to soak in water for a couple of weeks. The olives are then washed and seasoned with garlic, olive oil, hot chilli pepper flakes and parsley and tightly packed into glass jars. Also, fully mature purple olives can be placed in a container with salt for about 10 days and then left out in the open to dry for a week or so. These also can be seasoned, as described above, or used to prepare other dishes. Olives can also be made into a type of paté.
Itri Olive Festival or Sagra dell’Ulivo
Each year Itri holds an Olive Festival known as La Sagra dell’Ulivo. A large camp kitchen is set up in the centre of the town, near to the childrens’ park, and serves meals based on Itri’s delicious olives and olive oil.
There are also stalls exhibiting local food products and wine and some with displays of traditional handywork and skills by local artisans.
Local Produce of Itri
Other typical food products of Itri include:
Cheeses such as Marzolino, Mozzarella di Bufala, Caciotta and Ricotta
Sausages flavoured with red chilli pepper: dolce (mild), piccante (spicy)
Sausages flavoured with Coriander
Cured or Dried Sausages
Beans and Pulses
Traditional Dishes of Itri
Typical dishes served in this area include:
Salsiccia e Broccoletti (Sausage and Sprouting Broccoli)
Sugo di Cinghiale con Polenta (Wild Boar Ragu with Polenta)
Fagioli con Cotica (Beans with Pigs Rind)
Cicoria e Fagioli (Chicory and Beans)
Zuppa di Uova e Cipolle (Egg and Onion Soup)
Tiella di Scarola e Olive (Pizza Pie with Escarole and Black Olives)