Rediscovering Calabria’s Mystical White Olives

Jan 13, 2023 239

CALABRIA, THE SOUTHERNMOST REGION OF the Italian peninsula, is the birthplace of some of the world’s most well-known myths, such as the terrifying tale of Scylla and Charybdis immortalized in the Odyssey. Yet one local curiosity remains in obscurity. Wander through the gardens of Calabrian churches or abandoned farmland in late autumn or early winter and you may glimpse it—a tree that appears to be strung with pearls. But this tree is no myth.

Archaeologist and native Calabrian Dr. Anna Maria Rotella first heard about the Olivo della Madonna, an ancient white-olive cultivar, in 2017, while working at an archaeological excavation site in Catanzaro. Due to their stunning appearance, locals have long called them the Olive Trees of the Madonna.

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