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Tuscany is not only known for its amazing wines, but also for its world-class olive oil. On retreat in the XII century hilltop town of Montepulciano, we were welcomed by local olive farmers into their green groves and then into the local coop olive press and finally take a long (and rainy) pilgrimage/hike with a dozen stout-hearted souls through the olive groves outside of town. After spending a day like this, we’ll never think of olives in the same way again.

With the 500-year-old church of San Biagio in the background, a Montepulciano farmer uses an electric olive rake (powered by a cable attached to the battery on the nearby car) to shake the olives onto the tarp below. Then it’s on to the local coop olive mill. (Jock Lauterer photo)



Freshly harvested multi-colored olives await the coop olive press. (Jock Lauterer photo)


Local farmers gather as their olives are milled, turned into sweet green fresh olive oil. The rich aromatic smell of the olive mill is intoxicating, the floor — slick with spilled oil. (Jock Lauterer photo)


Freshly milled olive oil, redolent and green, fills a farmer’s cistern.


We are inspired on our hike through the olive groves by the indefatigable 83-year-old Fiorella, far right, here setting the pace. (Jock Lauterer photo)


During the harvest festival hike, my wife, Lynne, hikes up and out of a modernistic wine cellar.


At day’s end, time to go home, put on some dry clothes and enjoy a little glass of the local pride and joy — along with a piece of homemade bread and fresh olive oil. Life is good! (Jock Lauterer photos)










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