the mystery and romance
Sun, stone,drought, silence and solitude: these are the five ingredients that, according to Italian folk traditions, create the ideal habitat for the olive tree.
Olive trees have an almost titanic resistance, a vital force which renders them virtually immortal. Despite harsh winters and burning summers, despite truncations, they continue to grow, proud and strong reaching towards the sky, bearing fruit that nourishes, heals, inspires and amazes.
Homer in the "Odyssey" called it "liquid gold". In ancient Greece, athletes ritually rubbed it all over their bodies and Olympic champions were crowned with olive branches. Its mystical glow illuminated history. Drops of it seeped into the bones of dead saints and martyrs through holes in their tombs.
The olive tree, symbol of abundance, glory and peace, gave its leafy branches to crown the victorious in friendly games and bloody war, and its oil has anointed the noblest of heads throughout history.
King Solomon and King David placed great importance on the cultivation of olive trees, with David even having guards watch over the olive groves and warehouses, ensuring the safety of the trees and their precious oil.
Olive trees became pillars of Hellenic society, becoming so sacred in Greece that those who cut one down were condemned to death or exile.
The Romans lit olive lamps before a baby was born. The lamps carried names and the baby was named after the one which burned the longest, so bringing him or her a long and happy life.
In Genesis, a dove released from the Ark by Noah, returned with an olive branch to show that the flood had receded.
Olive oil was recommended by Muhammad the Prophet of Islam. "Consume olive oil and anoint it upon your bodies since it is of the blessed tree." He also stated that it cures seventy diseases.
Hercules was protected by wearing a wreath of olive leaves upon his head.
For bravery in battle, Roman soldiers were rewarded with crowns of olive leaves.