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HISTORY OF OLIVE-GROWING IN THE TRIEST DISTRICT
 
Olive-growing in the Triest district dates back to the Pre-Roman era, when the ancient Phoenicians, aiming to spread their trades in larger areas, circumnavigated  the Adriatic sea, sowing olive trees on all the surrounding coasts.
 
The Roman era has provided us with valuable works, written by Martial, Pliny and Strabo, concerning the oil of such regions. Once having realized the ideal natural features of the soil and climate of the Eastern Adriatic area, especially those soils clinged to the Carso steep cliffs and by the Istrian peninsula, the Romans started to focus on olive-growing, turning it into a remunerative activity.  In those days, each Istrian farm already had its own press and pressing took place along with harvesting.
Down the centuries, significant documents witness the primary role of olive-growing among the main resources of local agriculture. Indeed, during the feudal era, tithes were paid with oil.

During the era of town independence, from the 13th century onwards, landowners and farmers within the Triest area were compelled to sow olive trees on their own soils. The archives provide us with leases concerning soils for vineyards and olive-groves. Strict rules established by the town of Triest regulated the several presses.

Between the 14th and the 17th century Triest saw a thriving trade of local oil and of oil coming from Naples, Sicily, Apulia and Abruzzo, where Triest consuls were present and exported the product to Northern Europe. Such period of vast plantations and large production took place during the supremacy of the Republic of Venice over Istria. With the decline of Venice, olive-growing found itself at a standstill and, under the supremacy of Austria, oil production and, subsequently trade, strongly decreased. The severe winters of 1782 and 1789 worsened the already vulnerable situation of the Triest olive-growing: most olive trees plantations were destroyed and the number of trees was almost halved.

During the 1800 and 1900’s the Triest olive-growing was not particularly thriving and the knowledge of several growing techniques was lost. The growing presence of seed oils, benefitting from significant custom duties reductions, determined a further decline of olive oil consumption. Notwithstanding such situation, the terrassements of the coast and surrounding areas of Triest displayed exemplary vineyards and olive-groves, witnessing that the growing of the Minerva tree still raised interest . Therefore, the Royal Institute of the agriculture Society of Gorizia felt the urge to publish, in 1847, a theoretical and practical manual on olive-growing, written by Peter Deviak, honorary member of the Royal Institute.

The recent history of the Triest olive-growing has a most tragic start: the devastating 1929 freezing winter which reduced growings to almost nothing and the Fascist regime worsened the situation, by demanding the eradication of the logs.
During the following decades olive-growing in the Triest area survived thanks to the sincere dedication and affection shown towards the olive tree by a few local farmers who, during the harsh winter of 1956 were completely knocked out and also the few remaining oil presses stopped their activity.

Yet, the stubbornness of the farmers, especially those from Muggia and S.Dorligo-Dolina, overcame the worst natural calamities and since the end of the 50s, but more significantly from the 70s onwards, it has been paving the way to a growing awakening, still constantly expanding. With the production increase, the Agriculture cooperative of Triest opened a small oil press in 1977, which was enlarged and strengthened in 1985 within the Domio cooperative seat, and alongside of which, in 1996, came that of the Parovel company of Caresana-Mačkolje.

The regional law  n. 79/81 gave impetus to a brand-new start for the Triest olive-growing tradition. The project launched by the Region through the ERSA (Regional body for agriculture development) envisaged the creation of new plants in the areas with the highest potential. New olive trees are starting to grow on the slopes of the Čelo mountain in Bagnoli-Boljunec, near by Dolina, under the slopes of Sant’Antonio-Boršt and San Giuseppe-Ricmanje, and also on the Muggia hills. The initiative has involved young olive-growers of the Triest, Duino/Aurisina-Devin/Nabrežina towns. The new enthusiasm has created intense relations among several bodies and institutions, which are currently fruitfully cooperating and which therefore deserve being mentioned: the Triest Chamber of Commerce, the Triest District Inspectorate for agriculture, the Triest District Administration, the town of San Dorligo della Valle-Občina Dolina, the Triest Agriculture Cooperative, the farmers Union of Triest and Gorizia, the direct farmers Federation of Triest, the promoting Committee for the Days of Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry, the O.L.E.A. (Laboratory Organization of experts and tasters) of Pesaro, the National Association »Città dell'Olio« of Siena and of course the Committee for the enhancement of the extra-virgin olive oil of the Triest district.

The growing surface in the Triest district accounts for almost 120 hectares, 80 of which in the town of S.Dorligo-Dolina. Production, in the most fruitful years, reaches about 700 tons of olives and will see a rapid increase, since many young olive-groves, sowed from 2000 onwards, are about to enter the production phase.

Today olive-growing in the Triest district plays a pivotal role in the scenario of  local agriculture sectors. It is well rooted within the socio-cultural context of the  population and is constantly on the rise,  not only considering quantity criteria, but also considering quality ones. Enthusiasm and vocation, necessary for a qualitative olive-growing activity, are sided by a growing desire to acquire scientific know-how and technical skills concerning the growing, the production and the storing of the extra-virgin olive oil produced on our soils.

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