As an avid collector of extra virgin olive oil, I was intrigued to read recently that Hadrian’s Villa, the second-century retreat of Roman Emperor Hadrian, has begun selling limited edition bottles of ‘Hadrian’s Olive Oil’ made with the harvest from olive trees around the UNESCO heritage monument.
In a nod to the prosperous lifestyle of the Roman Emperor in his 100 acre park in the spa town of Tivoli, twenty miles east of Rome, the site’s curator has restarted production of oil from the 3,500 olive trees in the park, none of which are younger than 200 years old.
Only seventy-eight bottles of the Mediterranean condiment ground from the harvest last month are going on sale initially at the villa’s bookshop after Doctor Andrea Bruciati, an historian appointed to the point last May, initiated the move.
Doctor Bruciati sees the batch of oil as a harbinger of a larger revival of Hadrian’s rustic empire and is marketing produce also from the adjoining park at the renaissance Villa d’Este, where the curator plans to grow the traditional pizzutalla oblong grape that local Italian farmers have abandoned for more lucrative wine production.
‘I have always thought of the Villa Adriana and the Villa d’Este as not just marvellous artistic and landscape heritage but also as places for a kind of aware tourism based on slowness, far from the world of dine and dash,’ Doctor Brusciatia told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
I can’t wait, says I, to get hold of one of the seventy-eight limited edition bottles of olive oil being sold in the bookshop of the UNESCO monument in Tivoli. It is perhaps a wild dream since I am sure they will become a treasured possession which will fly out of the shop in a matter of minutes.