Since olive oil is one of the staples of Italy, I jumped at the chance to visit our guidance counselor’s olive tree grove (called an uliveto) in the Umbrian Town of Corciano. Sure, we were just pruning her trees, and I don’t have much of a green thumb, but it was still interesting!
Olives are picked in October/November, but after that you can only prune them until about April, and there’s kind of an art to it! Branches in the center are cut out, enough so birds can fly around in it, and the rest are left to grow outwards from the tree. The inside is cleared so that all of the branches will be exposed to the water and sun light, and nothing is getting in the way. It reminds me of the way rotisserie chickens spin around on a skewer – to cook evenly. The tree is pruned so that all the olives can grow evenly.
But my favorite part of the day was having a picnic, laying beneath the olive trees, and soaking up the Umbrian sunshine. It was the best way to start the period of midterms that were soon to come.