New Olive Oil Festival
Montisi, an ancient hill town in the heart of Tuscany, lies between the “Crete Senesi”— the magnificent chalk hills south of Siena — and the beautiful Val d’Orcia, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its neighbors include the famous towns of Montalcino, Montepulciano, Pienza, BagnoVignoni, San Quirico d’Orcia, and Siena. Every year for several days at the end of October and the beginning of November, Montisi hosts “Il Primo Olio”, or the New Olive Oil Festival, a gastronomic event that celebrates the exquisite extra virgin olive oil made from olives harvested before they fully ripen. The early harvesting ensures that the oil — called “olio novo” by the Tuscan people — retains a unique aromatic flavour, a gem-like green colour, and just the right “bite”. The festival also showcases other fine local products, such as white truffles, saffron, honey, and wine. Montisi’s restaurants and the four “contrade” (districts) of the village offer lunches and dinners featuring recipes based on the local olive oil and other products, often accompanied by the exceptional Brunello and Orcia DOC wines of the territory.
During the festival, local merchants set up stalls along the streets of the village for the sale of agricultural products, handcrafts, and antiques, and artists present exhibitions of their work. Special tastings of olive oil, honey and wine can be arranged, and visitors can join a guided tour of the ancient olive oil mill in Montisi, or visit the four contrade, the museum of “La Compagnia”, the churches of the village, and the “Grancia”, a medieval fortified grange for the storage of grain that now houses Montisi’s little theatre.