Saturday, November 21, 2009

Raking Olives in Italy

I have been waiting for this experience for months: Raking Olives!
Today we drove out to Brother and Sister Guidara’s. The day was perfect!
On the top of every hill there is an old town. The gold’s and red’s of the autumn countryside, with the sun shining through the trees, was lovely.

When you rake olives:
1. You spread a net on the ground around the tree to catch the olives when they fall.

2. With a short handled rake, you comb the olives off the tree. Some of the olives are green and some are black. As you step on the net, you are careful to avoid stepping on the olives that are already on the ground.

3. When the tree is bare of olives, you carefully gather up the net, letting the olives roll into pile. Then you dump them into a plastic box.

4. When all the olives are gathered, they are taken to an olive press. There the olives are dumped into a machine where the leaves and twigs are removed and the olives are washed.

5. The olives are then mashed, the pit and all, into a pulp.
6. Finally the pulp is pressed enough to extract the oil. This oil is called virgin oil.

7. The pulp is used for other purposes.
Sister Guidara served us a delicious lunch after several hours of hard work.
At the end of the day, we went looking for knarly olive trees. Brother Guidara told us where to find a huge, old olive tree and we found it!
This tree is 2000 - 2400 years old. It is the largest olive tree in Europe. And, amazingly, it is still growing good olives.

Bigger olive producers use air rakes for a faster job, especially in larger trees. We saw one in motion. It didn't look nearly as fun as the way harvested the olives.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Random Ways to Make Money in Italy

Italy is a melting-pot of nationalities. Because of the European Union, people from over 24 nations in the union, can travel freely from country to country and work there. It seems that many of the countries surrounding Italy are even poorer than many of the Italian people, and they do a variety of jobs (with lots of asking for handouts) to provide simple food and basic housing to survive.
Following are some examples:

Observe the can for coin donations
These are our all-time favorites. These two women live on the street by Termini where all the buses and trains come into Rome. They sleep on newspapers on the ground, and carry all their belongings in wheelchairs. They are a national landmark.

And this one isn't random - it's necessary!