Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It was the first day of the new season.  The olives were ready and so were we.


Placing the nets under the olive trees



There were six of us.   First there was Laetitia, a delightful French girl who is a tourist guide with a good command of the Italian language.    Next were the twins from Australia, Bronwyn and Marian.    Bronwyn had spent the previous month studying Italian and was starting to master the language and Marian had just flown in from Sydney and was still getting over her jet lag.   Not surprisingly they always picked together.


Bronwyn and Giovanni


Then, of course, there was Giovanni who, I assumed, had been picking olives for most of his eighty-three years.   He knew more than we did and continued to tell us so, although as he only spoke Sicilian, I have no idea exactly what he was saying.   Our team leader was Carmelina who owned the olive grove where we were picking.   And finally there was me, a baby boomer, also from Australia.   So as you can see we were rather an eclectic group.


It started with Giovanni laying out a net on the ground under the first olive tree.  He and I then climbed up the two ladders to the top branches while the rest concentrated on the lower part of the tree. The view was great up there but my ladder was anything but secure so I comforted myself by thinking about the nearby Cefalù hospital which has an excellent reputation.  The laughter from below drifted up through the olive branches while Giovanni continued to yell instruction to us all in Sicilian of course.  Soon it started to rain olives and before long the net was surprisingly full.  We moved on to the second and then the third tree.


It was fun but not what I would want to do for a living!


Just a few of the hundreds of kilos of olives we picked


Like all things in Sicily the highlight of the day was the lunch consisting of endless food, the local wine and loads of laughs.


This was my experience at olive picking in Sant’Ambrogio, which I highly recommend if you’re looking for something different to do next October, or any October come to think of it.


Bronwyn picking


Ross Wall

Sydney, Australia


Two days later there was a knock at our apartment door. I opened it to find Carmelina proudly holding a bottle of olive oil made from the olives we had hand picked.  It was a gift for us to take back to Australia.  Never has olive oil tasted so good!


Ready to be taken to the olive press








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