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There are about five hundred olive cultivars still used in Italy. Italian extra virgin is considered the highest quality. Moreover large numbers of farm businesses still cultivate centuries-old trees, demonstrating the extraordinary rural biodiversity of this country.

Eighteen out of the twenty regions in Italy produce extra virgin olive oil. The quality of this production, for the most part bearing European Dop or Igp labels, is considered the best in the world, for two reasons: firstly the multi-formed nature of the land and slopes bestow exceptional nuances on extra virgins; secondly the olive culture itself displays exceptional biodiversity. There are more than 200 cultivars still in use in Italy and this ensures that nationwide production is varied. The cultural habit has also arisen of accompaniment to cooking, which leads to people choosing the best oil to enhance a particular dish. In every area dedicated to olive growing there are centuries-old groves, often with plants reaching a thousand years of age and which are in fact oleasters that is non-cultivated olives or possibly even semi-wild. An application was submitted recently to Unesco to have certain Italian olive grove landscapes declared world heritage sites, on account of the presence of these “patriarchs”. Although these giants of vegetation produce very low yields, the Italian producers have never given up cultivating them and harvesting their fruits, from which they obtain excellent oils. The Patriarchs are particularly widespread in the South of Italy and a lot of them have been uprooted to be used as ornamental plants. But the new awareness of producers today ensures that these olives have become testimonials for their company quality.