Many say that Puglian olive oil is an aquired taste, with it's intense, fruity but acidic flavour it is not just an essential ingredient in Puglian cookery but also to the Puglian economy. No other agricultural product has had such a profound effect on the nature and life of the people in the southernmost tip of Italy as this fragrant oil. The key to Puglian olive oil is the regions lime rich soils and dry climate, the ideal conditions for growing good olives. In Puglia table olives are eaten as an energy-rich accompaniment to the local breads, but oil bearing olives provide the raw materials for not only cooking but also for fuel in domestic lamps.
Even today, olive oil production is Puglia's most important economic factor in the region of Apulia. The olive oil and table olives produced here account for 40 per cent of Italian and 15 per cent of global olive production. Puglia's olive cultivation area extend over three strips of land; the province of Foggia, th province of Bari and the Salento peninsula, to which the provinces of Lecce, Brindisi and Taranto belong. However, this division says nothing about which varieties of olive are grown in which province, because the soil and micro-climatic differences within these three zones a quite diverse.
In Apulia, not only can you admire the beauty of its architecture and it's art, but you can also look around its Trappeti, ancient olive oil mills. In these subterranean pressing cellars, the temperatures was constant. The caves, carved from limestone, only have one entrance to the south, to protect from the damaging north wind. Another advantage of the Trappeti was that they did not cost much to build. The naturally thick walls of the vault were cut out of the rock in such as way as to withstand the tremors caused by the extremely heavy millstone, without the need for additional fortification or complex building work. Feeding the presses was also easier than with other types of mill, as the olives were simply shaken down through the purpose-built shafts. Any waste ran off along the natural fissures in the hollowed-out limestone bedrock. Thee are around 35 such mills in the area around Gallipoli.