In Liguria, an olive growing area famous and known all over the world for the production of high quality oils, the most renowned cultivar, known and present in absolute terms is the Taggiasca, but there are many other less famous similar ones that are still capable of producing an oil of valuable value. The combination of mild climate, fertile soil and proximity to the sea has meant that, over the centuries, the olive growers of this difficult area have wisely selected different cultivars capable of adapting to the Ligurian territory as best as possible.
Behind every oil, you have to imagine the industriousness of the Ligurian farmer, a farmer of an impervious and extreme land, a hero of normality. Without these olive growers the landscape would not be as we know it. In mountainous or hilly areas such as in Liguria there would be no good soil holding and without terracing the water would ruin the hills and there would be no olive groves.
The leitmotif of this “strip of land that borders the sea” is a balanced and sweet oil, capable of satisfying even the most demanding palates; but let’s find out in detail the most famous cultivars present in Liguria
This type of cultivar can be found in Genoa and in the eastern Liguria. Probably we are faced with an “ecotype”, that is to say a tree that finds its chosen area in the Tigullio area, assuming distinctive characteristics, compared to the mother cultivar that many identify with the Taggiasca cultivar very closely linked to it.
The olive tree of the Lavagnina cultivar can reach altitudes of 16 meters, and is known for its robustness and resistance to bad weather and cold, so much so that it can still live at an altitude of 700 meters.
The olives of this cultivar are slightly enlarged at the base and have a cylindrical shape.
At the maximum degree of ripeness they have a purplish color, similar to Taggiasca.
Historically, the pomologist Giorgio Gallesio talks about it in these terms: “Lavagnina is an olive that is considered privileged even in Eastern Liguria, and if the oil it produces in that littoral does not enjoy the reputation of those of Nice and di Diano this must be attributed to the faulty way of extracting it rather than to the soil or the variety ”.
La Mortina, also called Merlina or Mortegna, is widespread in the province of Savona, but also in the Genoese area. Olives are used only for the production of oil. The olive is black, small in size and has a good yield. Unlike the drupe, the tree reaches large dimensions.
Among all the cultivars of Liguria, the Mortina is grown exclusively in warm locations and well exposed to the sun because it fears low temperatures.
This cultivar is mainly found between Liguria and Tuscany. Predominant in the province of La Spezia, it is mainly used for the production of oil.
“The historical identification of the Razzola is linked to the name of Giorgio Gallesio (1772-1839). Gallesio notes during a trip to Tuscany: “The olive that dominates throughout this territory is the Razza, or the Tagliasca. He is here, starting from Lucchese where she is alone, who begins to take this name which in some places is changed to that of Razza “and then:” I am sure that in almost all of Tuscany La Razzola is the dominant one but that it receives names different “; The fact that Gallesio approaches the Razzola to the Taggiasca (“Tagliasca” is written in Italian) is not accidental: similar bearing, common productivity and sharing in the great family of the Olivo Gentile.
Cold resistance ranges from low to medium. It is a domestic plant, a lover of the sun and it is a good thing for those moments in which the northern winds penetrate the wide valleys of the Ligurian Levant or between the Lunigiana gorges. What they like is productivity.
In fact, the yield at 24.4% is Ligurian.
But the balance leaves its mark on the score of a fruity that tends to the medium. And it tends decisively, with a sweetness that exists and is felt, but at the same time with a complex body and a spicy dimension that pleases without being intrusive, that persists and adapts to a cuisine that calls soups, spelled, beans, which is Ligurian Apuan and which can also become international in search of variations on the theme. It does not disappoint, it has character, in short. And they like this, because it is Mediterranean, Ligurian at heart and lively with Tuscany. ”
The quoted part was taken from an article by the historian Alessandro Giacobbe on Liguria Food.
The dovecote olive, also known as colombara or colombina, is a typical cultivar of the province of Savona, very common in the Finale area.
It is a historic autochthonous variety where the branches, in agronomic jargon, point upwards, unlike other varieties where the branches tend downwards, i.e. drooping.
The olive fruit is late in ripening and is not large in size.
Dovecote oil, provided that the production chain is managed in an excellent manner, is a balanced oil with hints of fresh fruit, fruity with various herbaceous notes, and a bitter aftertaste on the finish. This oil from chemical analyzes is rich in polyphenols, which are nothing more than natural antioxidants.
Very old plant, according to the historian Jean Mabillon, already present at a short distance from Varigotti in 1125.
The dovecote cultivar, understood as a plant and drupe, is very delicate and can stand the cold. The olive has a very low oil yield, and for this reason it has been a bit set aside by olive growers, even if it produces an oil of exceptional quality.
The pignola or pinola olive (from the seed from which it takes its name) is a typical cultivar of western Savona, which we find from Finale Ligure to Arnasco (Arroscia valley), where we meet it with the name of Arnasca.
This variety of olive has been rooted in the Ligurian territory for centuries with the function of pollinator and guardian of centuries-old olive groves.
The pignola plant is rustic, resistant to cold, smaller in size than the Taggiasca cultivar.
The stem and branches are not very developed; the fruit is late, with a high content of pulp, small in size and when completely veraisoned, with a purplish black color.
The oil obtained from the Pignola cultivar has an intense fruitiness, with a bitter aftertaste and a hint of pine nut.