12 April 2024

Safeguarding and Preservation: The Heritage of Olive Oil at Tenuta Maryamado

A deep dive into the millennia-old history and sustainable practices that define the extra virgin olive oil of Tenuta Maryamado. Adua Villa in conversation with the olive oil expert Aleandro Ottanelli.


Approaching Tenuta Maryamado, near San Casciano Val di Pesa, the scenery unfolds into a vibrant tapestry of ancient olive groves. It is believed that some of these majestic trees are over 500 years old, with gnarled trunks stretching wider than my outstretched arms. Despite their age, their branches still proudly display silver-green leaves and purple fruit, soon to be transformed into Tenuta Maryamado’s coveted extra virgin olive oil.


My guide – now my guru – Aleandro Ottanelli, welcomes me amidst these verdant relics of history, introducing me to the bygone traditions when olive gathering was a moment of celebration and familial unity. Nowadays, while the essence of those times endures, it is the adept hands of specialized teams that propel the work forward, employing modern methodologies while maintaining an unwavering reverence for the land.


Aleandro unveils the essence behind what makes exceptional extra virgin olive oil so enchanting. "We're rediscovering and embracing Renaissance techniques," he elaborates. "Here, we pay homage to the past while forging ahead with a commitment to sustainability, recognizing it as the cornerstone of a lasting legacy," he affirms. The result is an olive oil that doesn't just tantalize your taste buds; it encapsulates centuries of profound connection between mankind and the terroir. In short, through the tasting of these olive oils, you feel as though you’ve been transported to Tuscany. And I consider myself fortunate to be in the right place with a knowledgeable expert like Aleandro.


Aleandro is more than just a custodian of this tradition; his very soul resonates with every olive that’s harvested. His roots are deep; he was born into a family of olive growers and grew up amidst the proud heritage of olive oil production near Florence. While his craft may have refined his taste, it's his passion for this "green gold" that charts his course, spurred by a friendly rivalry with neighboring producers for the finest yield. His vision transcends local borders, embracing avant-garde techniques and a comprehensive global appreciation for the significance of extra virgin olive oil.


Inside the olive mill, amidst cutting-edge machinery and the unmistakable aroma of freshly pressed oil, Aleandro shares anecdotes of how extra virgin olive oil can serve as a cultural bridge."From Pakistan to China, spanning Japan and beyond, people hold olive oil in high esteem for its benefits. It changes your life," Aleandro remarks. Drawing from his journeys across Asia and his exploration of olive oil traditions in other cultures, a narrative unfolds highlighting how this humble fruit can promote well-being and foster unity. "Olive oil transcends mere sustenance; it embodies a message of peace," he reflects, underscoring how, despite mounting global competition, Tenuta Maryamado remains steadfast in its commitment to quality and authenticity.


As the operations in the olive mill forge ahead without interruption, Aleandro emphasizes the significance of a tightly-knit team in achieving outstanding oil. "Every individual here contributes with dedication and passion, akin to a team where each player is crucial for success. Crafting oil of this caliber leaves no room for shortcuts. At Tenuta Maryamado, every olive matters."



The pinnacle of our journey is an introduction to the Olivarium, an ambitious project that highlights Tenuta Maryamado's dedication to promoting the culture of extra virgin olive oil. Through educational pathways, guided tastings, and encounters with experts, the Olivarium serves as a hub for gathering and sharing, where a passion for olive oil intertwines with sustainability education. "Our vision is for the Olivarium to become a beacon of excellence and awareness," Aleandro concludes, envisioning a future where Maryamado continues to shine in the world of olive oil, guided by values of excellence and environmental stewardship.


As one departs from Tenuta Maryamado, the profound connection to a thriving heritage is unmistakable. Walking amidst ancient olive groves, listening to Aleandro's narratives and perspectives, and savoring the oil that epitomizes this profound relationship between mankind and nature, offers an experience beyond a mere estate tour. It's an opportunity to engage, even if just through a taste, in the timeless history and the promising future that Tenuta Maryamado represents for this region.


Adua Villa


Adua Villa

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