Olivo Raio (local variety of olive)

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Olivo Raio (local variety of olive)

Olivo Raio (local variety of olive)

Olea europea L.


The variety has a very high vigor, with an expansive habit. Fruit production is medium and constant. It is sensitive to drought, olive tree scab and peacock spot, while it tolerates cold and flies. The drupes are small, the skin is black.

The Raio variety, with several proven synonyms, has been known since ancient times. The first mention of the variety referred to Umbria dates back to 1888, in the volume “L’Umbria olearia” published by the Chamber of Commerce: within the category of “olive millers” reference is made to a group called “Razzi”, to which varieties defined as Razzi, Raggi, Raj, Raggioli, Ragi is ascribed.
Francesco Francolini in 1908 in the text “The Spoleto Valley and its Agricultural Economies”, speaking of the Raggio variety, says that it is most widespread in the western hills of the Spoleto area. In the volume “Little dictionary of the Amerina countryside. Essay of own voices used in the countryside of the city of Amelia and in certain other places in Umbria” (Rosa Edilberto, 1907) an explanation of the name Rajo is also given: «Rajo, vale radius, from radius: (…). In Amelia the fruit of a variety of olive trees is called rajo, because its shape is similar to a small shuttle for weaving (oliva raja) and the tree that bears it is also called raja. With this name, even in Roman times, a kind of oblong-shaped olive was distinguished, mentioned by Virgil in the Georgics».

The denominations Raggio, Razzo and Raggiolo are also reported in the 1914 volume “Of some varieties of olive trees in Umbria (characters and synonyms)” by Giommaroni-Cherubini, who considers them synonymous. The author indicates the surroundings of Perugia, Assisi, Spoleto and Trevi as its main diffusion area, and also states that in the Trasimeno area there is a very similar variety called Alvana or Alvaia. The same information appears in the 1923 text “Some observations on the flower of the most important olive varieties of Umbria” by Ettore Mancini.
The variety was presumably also present in the Orvieto area, given that traces of it remain in the local dialect: in the Vocabulary of the dialect of the Orvieto area (Mattesini and Uguccioni 1992) reference is made to a variety called rajjo, also known as rajja or ràggine. Ascanio Marchini in 1921 (“Olive tree varieties in Umbria. Contribution to the research of relationships between the characteristics of the varieties and the geo-agronomic conditions”) considers Raio and Dolce synonyms, reporting only the latter denomination in the description and in the relative tables.

Numerous “Raio” trees of considerable size (basal diameter greater than 150 cm) are present in scattered form or as olive groves in various areas of Amerino.

Hills of the Amerino-Narnese area. It represents most of the olive-growing heritage of the municipalities of Amelia, Giove and Penna in Teverina. The presence is sporadic in the neighboring municipalities.

The oil extracted in the first harvest period is characterized by olfactory sensations of herbaceous and hay with a clear bitter and pungent sensation. In the second age the oil is more balanced while olfactory notes of herbaceous, artichoke and tomato are detected.

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