Olivo Ornellona (local variety of olive)

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Olivo Ornellona (local variety of olive)

Olivo Ornellona (local variety of olive)

Olea europea L.


Variety with spreading habit with ascending branches. The drupes are medium sized, elongated in shape. The seed, elongated in shape, is large. The peel is purplish in color and veraison begins at the apex. It is harvested towards the end of October, beginning of November.

As far as is currently known, the variety is present only in the Municipality of Narni (TR). Three specimens have been counted, one of which (coeval with the other two) was recently cut at the base to reform its foliage. The plants, present in Schifanoia, have been handed down and preserved over the decades by the Longhi family. A genetic characterization study (Pandolfi S. et al., 2013) made it possible to ascertain that it is a unique genotype.

Currently it is not known with certainty for how long this cv has been present in the region. Its cultivation appears to be very localized, in a precise area of the Schifanoia fraction in the municipality of Narni in the last part of Umbria, not far from the Lazio Region. The beginning of its cultivation could coincide with the arrival from the Middle East around 1400 of the Mazzanera family, who, in addition to the olive trees, brought plants of pomegranates and figs. Subsequently, around 1600, the Longhi family from Romagna, ancestors of the current depository and custodian of the resource, moved to this specific place.

Resource attributable exclusively to its ownership, the spatial attribution is immediate, the historical origin and temporal distribution of uncertain determination. The historical genealogy of the cultivation of this olive tree can be reconstructed relying only on the stories and private vicissitudes of a single family, that of Mr. Uneo Longhi. It is one of the few cases, if not the only one, in which these specimens are not the last survivors of endangered varieties which, to preserve their existence, are correlated to a specific place, but are apparently the only ones existing which they contribute to increasing the identity and territorial belonging of the city of Narni and its inhabitants. (It is not the Ornellona from Narni but Narni of the Ornellona).

The “olivaccia bacona”, so called by Mr. Uneo’s father, referring to the size of the fruit, from the “large silkworms” with a negative meaning due to the extremely bitter taste, not welcome and pleasant to dry as was done for other large olives dimensions, such as for example the mill (or “the white olive”). The larger olives, compared to the others, were also intended to be preserved. “Olivacce bacone” which are used primarily, like all the other olives in order to produce extra virgin olive oil and in small quantities also sauces to accompany specifically with rabbit meat, as Uneo’s mother used to prepare, in a recipe also handed down it at the family level.
The name attributed to this variety is recent and has no specific intrinsic relationships or references or with the territory but is only due to the physical resemblance to the Tuscan Ornellaia variety from which it is distinguished in particular by the larger size of the drupe, from which Ornellona.

The “Ornellona” plants currently present in the Longhi family’s lands have all “rejected” after the deadly frost of 1956, starting from the stumps which are hundreds of years old. A particularly tenacious variety of olive tree, resistant to disease, unlike other varieties such as the frantoio. In the past, the olives of the different varieties, frantoio, moraiolo (the “round olive”) and the others, were pressed all together, during the winter, starting from the month of January, after having been distributed on a large white cloth dry.

Municipality of Narni.

The oil is predominantly yellow in color. The olfaction reveals a medium intense fruitiness of ripe olives, tomato notes prevail followed by apple and thistle. In the mouth, the spiciness prevails over the bitterness, the tomato sensations return and a good taste of green banana and chamomile flowers. In general, the oil is very interesting as it differs considerably from the olfactory and gustatory perceptions usually present in Umbrian cultivars.

Texts taken from “Regional Register of Autochthonous Genetic Resources of the Umbria Region”