The olive and the oil, a story of balance and harmony. Life for the Santagata family has always been geared toward investing time, energy and resources, both intellectual and financial, to the continuous and constant search for equilibrium. It is as if we are caught in time, always looking to find the right location, space and suitable conditions: the correct balance, the ideal ecosystem. Therefore, it is no accident that, for those of us who were born and raised in Liguria, the olive has been and continues to be a symbolic plant which has always deserved and received the greatest attention. Our land is not an easy place, hilly and mountainous as it is, with little thought for flat plains. It has been an enormous enterprise to establish efficient olive groves in such a complex area. It involved creating useful growing space in the few cultivable areas.
Not everyone knows this, and it is good to be reminded every so often: Liguria is a difficult context in which to work, so much so that beginning in the year 1000, work began on creating the terraces used to consolidate the strips of land which otherwise were susceptible to landslide. They are all different; thousands of kilometres of dry stone-walled terraces, built with the patience and toil of entire generations. These terraces almost constitute a great wall, like the one built by the Chinese, made of many millions of cubic metres of stone, where trails and mule tracks intersect, going off in every direction. We Ligurians are a part of this ecosys-tem, this continuing search for balance.
The olive is a plant which, among many, has given us many good successes, from the olives placed on the dining room table which are consumed following suitable processes making them edible, to the oil which is extracted from the olives.
The olive trees – largely the Taggiasca, but other varieties as well – were the plants that more than others sacrificed themselves for us Ligurians, even providing us with the valuable raw material which has made us well-known and appreciated across the world, and which opened the doors to successful trade for us.
This text is taken from the introduction to chapter 3 of the book “An Olive Oil Family” written by Cristina e Federico Santagata on the occasion of the 110 years of their company and pubblished by Olio Officina Edizioni.