As you might expect, olives grown in cooler areas where there is more moisture (rainfall and dew) exhibit leaner, more restrained characteristics.  This doesn’t however mean that great oil can now be made in Iceland – you need a minimum amount of sunshine to make your Extra Virgin Olive Oil taste remarkable, similarly to tomatoes or stone fruit.

Olive trees are sensitive to winter freeze (the Casaliva cultivar is more resistant to cold, hence being grown in the Garda region).  It is also easier to farm organically where the climate is more stable and less chemical sprays are required to keep the trees healthy.



Here’s the thing – all olives are green.  When they become fully mature, they turn black.
Olive maturity at the time of harvest is a major factor in flavour and quality: olives harvested earlier (green olives) feature more bitter, grassy characteristics, with lower yields and with the highest anti-oxidant content.  The oil is a much more intense green colour and has a longer shelf-life.  In terms of production, milling can take longer with green olives (a longer malaxation - the action of slowly churning milled olives to release droplets of oil - is needed and can be more complicated) but the results are far superior!  Don’t choose olive oil from over mature fruit: it lacks all the potential goodness and flavour.



People who care passionately about what they make and follow it personally every day have the capacity to create products with far higher quality, with integrity, and that taste of where they come from.  They are also able to do this by caring for the environment they inhabit.


This box contains 6 bottles of extra virgin olive oil made exclusively by Frantoio di Riva from groves on the banks of lake Garda.

Frantoio di Riva, 46°PARALLELO green label x 3 bottles (50cl)
Frantoio di Riva, 46°PARALLELO organic white label x 1 bottle (50cl)
Frantoio di Riva, 46°PARALLELO blue label x 1 bottle (50cl)
Frantoio di Riva, ULIVA Garda Trentino DOP x 1 bottle (50cl)

Venice and the cost of tourism

Venice is bit of a dream, with the canals, the richness, colours, opulence, the food, people and boats. It’s at once incredibly busy, but very serene. Despite all the published imagery, first time visitors will be overwhelmed from the moment they step foot on their first boat on the canals, for repeat visitors it’s a journey of continuous discovery and memories. 

The vast amount of tourists and subsequent industry around it are overwhelming, but turn a corner and a solitary artisan is there, moulding wood or fixing a boat singing to himself.   All across Italy’s main cities you have this incongruity of the hectic hold which tourists have on the local economies and the people who serve this economy – in Venice more so: you can’t live with them, but you can’t live without them.


This has built a mutual distrust: “the tourist don’t really care, and all the locals want is to charge as much as possible without consideration of quality”.   This is wrong and built on perceptions that are not true.  Take a Gondola ride for example, at the cost of 80 euros for 30 minutes, which seems rather high.  This is until you learn about the skills and work involved in making and riding a Gondola. To begin with, each boat is bespoke made for the gondolier who will be riding it (adjusted to their height and weight). There are over 280 single pieces, from 8 types of wood, including oak, elm, cherry and mahogany. There are the metal front and back curls, there is the forcola (the oar support), which is made out of one single piece of walnut and taking three days to carve.  The oars themselves are also made by hand, as are the decorations on the boat. Making a gondola is a true piece of craftsmanship with only very few people still practicing it.


A gondola costs in excess of 100 thousand euros, the licence even more and there is a lot of maintenance since every few months the boats needs to be taken out of the water for cleaning, repairs and repainting.  The gondoliers themselves have to know the city and its history intimately, speak foreign languages, and sing (not mandatory).  Craftsmanship in wood carving, boat building, just like in olive oil making, should be encouraged and rewarded.  Knowing precisely what has gone in to crafting something of such quality makes your journey more rewarding and allows you to perceive the true value of the experience.



For an incredible private tour of Venice and its unique crafts we highly recommend Luisella Romeo www.seevenice.it/en/


For a great meal and incomparable service, we recommend Osteria Anice Stellato