248 – Autumn Visitors and the 2017 Olive Harvest

Over the Autumn we have had a string of friends and family members come and visit us at Tre Cancelle which kept us busy. First we welcomed our friends: Clive and Marilyn who used to live in Gaeta. For several years Clive used to help Paul a great deal in the olive grove before their move back to the UK. They treated us to a lovely meal at a restaurant in Gaeta named the Masaniello.

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Clive and Paul

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Marilyn

My cousins Cathy and Jeff from Australia came to stay for a a week and also Paul’s sister and her friend Linda. They also helped Paul to celebrate his birthday.

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Cathy and Jeff

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Annie and Paul

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Annie, Paul, Cathy, Jeff and Linda

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The Birthday Boy – Paul

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A hand-drawn birthday card by Jeff of “San Paolo”

They also have us an amazing hand in clearing and preparing the olive groves for the harvest. Thank you all for you wonderful efforts !!!

No sooner had this party departed another arrived in the form of came our friend Kay and also friends Gerda and Adrian from South Africa who had recently got married.  The couple had been doing a 30 day whistle-stop tour of Europe visiting 5 countries, 22 towns and villages in Holland, Belgium, France, Spain and Italy.  And they still managed to fit in a few day’s visit to see us at Tre Cancelle. Amazing guys !!!

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Adrian and Gerda from South Africa

We also welcomed two of Kay’s friends, Nicky and Simon. All had come to help with the olive harvest.  Our American friends from Minturno and  Nandi, Davide and their three children from Itri, Tomaso, Dante and Giada, also volutuneered to help for a couple of days which was fantastic to have some extra pairs of hands.

This year we had a decent crop much to Paul’s delight . Over a couple of weeks with our team of volunteer workers we managed to harvest 1000 kilos of olives which were turned into about 180 litres of November harvest extra virgin olive oil which was really good news. At the same time we also managed to prune some of the trees that were growing too far too tall.

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Our sincere thanks to all those who took part and helped to make it such fun. It was an outstanding team effort.

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments Near Sperlonga’s Beaches and Historic Itri

Discover Beautiful South Lazio

 

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199 – Spring In The Olive Groves

The Spring is always a busy time for us at Tre Cancelle.  There’s always the Spring cleaning of the apartments to do and generally tidying and sprucing up around the place. 

This Spring was extra busy as we had had a fair bit of pruning carried out on the olive trees over the winter months, and there was a large amount of wood from the severed branches to be sorted and cut to size ready for the wood-shed.

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Some of the dogs didn’t waste time in making themselves cosy little nests amongst the leafy branches or frasche.

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Our builder friends very kindly lent us a hand by helping to transport some of the wood from the lower sections of the olive grove to the car park area in front of the house.

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We purchased a new chop-saw to help with the task of cutting the wood into manageable lengths.

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This may seem like an awful lot of wood but our wood-burning stoves are hungry beasts and consume huge amounts of firewood over the winter months to keep us cosy.  There are still several piles of firewood to be gathered and chopped, so hopefully we will be well stocked up for next winter.

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Italian winters can be cold and damp, however we rarely get a frost.  This year however was an exception, as we were hit by an icy cold snap, which killed off most of my geraniums and also burst an underground pipe.  At first we didn’t understand what had happened. It wasn’t until we received a phone call from our local water supplier asking us to pay our bill.  When Paul asked how much it was, his jaw dropped !!! – It was far higher than normal.  It was only then that we realised that there must have been a leak !!! Not good news !!! Not good news at all !!!

During March our friend Kay came to stay and she is always willing to help with many different tasks around the place.  Some of our other friends, Pauline and Filippo who also live in Itri, also came to lend us a hand in the groves. Heartfelt thanks to them all !!!

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Filippo, Pauline, Paul and Kay at Bix Bar in Itri

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By then the olive groves were gaily decorated by delicate wild flowers and blossoms.

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The astounding beauty of nature !!!

At this time of year the people from Itri also roam the countryside to collect the local delicacy of wild asparagus.  It grows freely on our land.

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Unfortunately the horses also love to eat it !!!

Photos by me – Louise, Paul, Kay and F. Agresti

#spring #itri #italy #SouthLazio #olive #grove #WildAsparugus

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TCTitleTre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments

Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy

133 – Start of the November 2011 Olive Harvest (part one)

Two of our friends, Kay and Elsie, who are regular visitors to Tre Cancelle, volunteered to come and help us with this year’s olive harvest.  Elsie also recruited two of her friends, Karen and Sylvia, who all belong to a popular Belly-Dancing group in South Wales.

Itri’s undulating hillsides are tinted with the silvery green foliage of olives trees, indeed Itri has been noted for the quality of its olives since Roman times.

The “Itrana” cultivar is exclusive to this specific area, thriving as a consequence of the unique environment, quality of the fertile soil, temperate micro –climate, sea breezes and fresh mountain air.

So for the last month the olive groves around Itri have been 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” (pronounced Ah-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 olives have grown round and plump and are gradually turning from bright green to dappled pink. Those harvested in November / December produce the much sought after “Early Harvest” Extra Virgin Olive Oil and / or Green Table Olives.

Other farmers prefer to harvested their olives when they are fully ripe, during February / March, to produce the “Mature Harvest Extra Virgin Oil and / or Purple / Black Table Olives.

After the well received comments from our last years November oil, we elected to harvest our olives early in the season, which whilst it produces less in volume, yields a wonderfully green and intense olive oil.

The weather seemed to be in our favour being set fair for most of the week.  The “Welsh Girls” were keen to get stuck in.

We started by carefully spreading out nets around some of the trees on the first terrace to be worked. Paul fired up the compressor to which can be fitted a variety of pneumatic tools, in this case a mechanical rake on a 4 meter telescopic pole, which is used to comb and vibrate the laden branches, causing the olives to cascade onto the nets below.

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Elsie and Kay

 Some of the trees had grown very tall, and required pruning back, so Paul climbed up a ladder, and with his trusty chain saw, and lopped off the tops to a more manageable height of 4 meters,  thus allowing the olives to be easily harvested at ground level.

This is done by hand either by using small rakes or by gently running one’s fingers over the fronds, popping of the colourful fruits, a task I find enormously satisfying.

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Sylvia

Inevitably the odd stray olive manages to bounce off the net so we scrambled about under the trees collecting these up.

The nets were then carefully gathered up and the olives rolled to one edge, where stray twigs and leaves are pulled out before pouring the olives into the waiting plastic crates. The huge nets were then lugged to the next batch of trees to be harvested.

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Kay, Elsie, Sylvia and Karen

  Ideally the olives need to be processed within 48 hours of being harvested, to preserve the very best of their natural characteristics.

The minimum batch size to take to the olive mill is 200 kilos, or 2 quintale, to ensure that your olives are processed in a single lot, and that you retrieve your own oil at the end of the process, and that it is not a mixed with someone else’s olives.  We think this is very important because by choice we do not use pesticides and herbicides whereas some other producers are not so ecologically minded.

Therefore, in general we tend to work two days on and one day off.  Our team of volunteers worked well and following the first 2 day harvest we were able to take 209 kilos of olives to the mill.

The following day the “Welsh Girls” deserved a well earned day off. 

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy