Matteo Tambini, one of the two founders of ‘O Fiore Mio, interviewed Gianluca Tumidei, olive grower of the Tenuta Pennita Estate, situated in the hills of Romagna in the Municipal of Castrocaro. The Tenuta Pennita Estate can boast of many awards for its products, and this historic property produces extra virgin olive oil, wine and grappa.

What made you decide to become an olive grower?

Actually, I don’t know. I just remember that when I used to go hunting for thrush birds (I haven’t been for more than 15 years now) I would be fascinated in watching these magic plants. I would sometimes hide for an entire day, hunting, next to the same plant and I realised that by the time evening fell I had found out new things about the olive tree.

Considering the old age of these plants I would imagine how many people, wars, battles, they would have witnessed and I said to myself: “if they could talk, who knows how many stories and how many secrets they could tell!” So, to have the honour of owning a few plants seemed fantastic. Today, on the property we own and we rent we have over 15,000 plants.

What is the secret behind a great oil?

There are no real secrets: excellent freshly picked olives, the utmost attention in the olive mill when it comes to the pressing and the temperatures, the filtering of the product that has just been made and its conservation at a constant temperature and with nitrogen.

‘O Fiore Mio is paying a lot of attention to the oil/pizza match. It is an original idea that combines 2 of the symbolic “Made in Italy” products. What do you think of this?

Oil makes the difference on all food, but especially on pizza: an excellent oil enhances its flavour. The aroma of the oil on the steaming pizza is a unique sensation. ‘O Fiore Mio is one of the very few pizzerias to have believed in this and they tell the story of the oil that is matched to each pizza. You are the only ones to spend time and words on oil. Oil, as a culture, is 30 years behind compared to wine. In Italy we have 40% of the world’s olive varietal patrimony and we should all work hard to spread the word about this liquid gold. Then, there is pizza. What we see all over the world has nothing to do with real pizza. A lot needs to be done to export not only quantity, but quality.

What are the forecasts for the new season?

It is still early to talk about quality. Today we foresee a good year as far as quantity is concerned, even considering the climatic trend there is already a considerable attack of flies that needs to be faced with traditional means. I am worried about the quality of the organic oils as the products used to combat the flies are not very efficient. If from midsummer onwards it is dry we will have strong oils with a good aroma, bitterness and a spicy palate; however if it continues to rain a lot the oil will be more delicate.

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