San Pietro a Maida is a little town near Catanzaro and is very famous for the production of olive oil: in fact as you leave the motorway to reach the village, along the route you can see great fields of olive trees which stand one next to an other like soldiers in different rows.
Not so far from the centre of San Pietro there’s the “Route of the Mills“: it is a path which goes down to the valley of the Pilla River. Here there are the ruins of some ancient olive oil and flour mills: once the water of the river actioned these mills to grind grains to flour and olives to oil. It is a beautiful walking through cork oaks and Arbutus or Strawberry trees, ornamental trees which produces bright-red fruits in the autumn.
The old path was not only used to reach the mills, but it was used also by the women who went down to the river for washing the laundry and was a good opportunity for meeting their lovers.
We discovered this path thanks to our tour guide Nicola who described to us every details of the vegetation, the mills and their traditions.
Then we went to a farm which produces organic olive oil: the owner is a woman, Mariangela, who has continued the tradition of her family. She told us how many difficulties a woman faced to manage her company, the old methods and machines used for the production and their new thecnologies which make their work simplier, how they harvest the olives and all phases of the production: it was very interesting!
Then we had lunch at the farm and we tasted delicious dishes, all made with their products : several focaccia breads made by diffrent kinds of flour with olive oil on the top, ham and cheese with their jam.
At the end Mariangela organized for us a mini-class of olive oil tasting: we learnt the difference in taste between the extra virgin olive oil, the olive oil and sunflower or soybean oil. It was interesting and funny at the same time.
It was a day where the past was compared to the innovation which respects the tradion.