Not everyone knows it, but olive oil from Lake Garda is a real local delicacy, so much that it is also recognized by the European Union as a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin).
That means its quality is certified and its production must follow a precise regulation, and the olives must be 100% from Lake Garda.
The result is an olive oil of extraordinary quality, which fortunately has not yet become a mass-produced product and therefore retains all the authentic taste of a small-scale production, mostly carried out by family-run farms.
Come with us and discover this still unknown treasure of Lake Garda!
Lake Garda Olive Oil PDO: an authentic taste
Lake Garda Olive Oil PDO is produced from olives harvested on the shores of the lake and in the surrounding areas, i.e. in the provinces of Brescia, Mantua, Verona and Trento.
Although these territories are located further north than all other oil production areas, the climate here is ideal for olive growing, as it is mitigated by the presence of the water mass of the lake.
However, the temperatures are lower than – for example – in the Mediterranean areas: this is a great advantage for this oil, because at lower temperatures the parasites have no way to proliferate. In essence, Lake Garda olive trees are practically immune to pests thanks to the particular climatic conditions of the area.
“Extra-virgin”: the mark of a real olive oil
Like all the best Italian oils, Lake Garda oil is also recognized as “extra-virgin”. But what does this definition mean?
The term refers to the process of pressing olives, which occurs only mechanically and not with chemical solvents (which are used, for example, to produce seed oils). Moreover, again thanks to the exclusively mechanical pressing, the acidity of the extra virgin olive oil must be less than 0.8%: in facts, Lake Garda Extra-virgin Olive Oil has an oleic acid content of 0.5%.
If you want to be sure that you are buying a quality product and not eating chemical solvents, always check that your oil bears the words “extra-vergine”!
Characteristics: scent, taste, color
Lake Garda Extravirgin Olive Oil is distinguished by its naturally delicate and fruity flavour. Tasting it, you will immediately recognize the harmony of its organoleptic notes and the light and balanced aromas: the scents of fresh grass, herbs, hay and artichoke, combined with an aftertaste of almond, make it truly unique.
Color: green to yellow (with variable intensity)
Bouquet: fruity, light to medium intensity
Taste: fruity, sweet notes and a characteristic almond aftertaste.
The best experiences around Lake Garda
Lake Garda Olive Oil PDO in our recipes
Thanks to its fruity and delicate taste, this oil goes very well with many dishes, not only with those of the traditional cuisine of Lake Garda. For example, you can use it on ravioli, or to prepare a soft focaccia.
Lake Garda Olive Oil is also excellent with fish from the lake, for example whitefish (a.k.a. lavaret), but also to prepare tasty tagliatelle with mushrooms, perhaps those collected in the valleys surrounding the lake.
Where to buy Lake Garda Olive Oil PDO
As we have said, most of the producers of this oil are small local businesses, often family-run. There are several on the shores of the lake, but be sure to buy a quality product, check that the company where you are buying is part of the Consortium of Garda DOP.
In general, we can not say that it is an economic product or affordable for everyone: in fact, since the production area is very small and the regulation very strict, this oil has a higher cost than others.
But if you want to bring with you some of the unique flavour of this territory, we suggest you to buy at least one bottle, because it is a taste that you will not find elsewhere and it is still unknown to most tourists. It could be a perfect gift for those who are waiting for you at home!
Olive Oil in Lake Garda: a very old tradition
The olive tree has been cultivated in the Lake Garda area since the dawn of time, and is already evidence of this at the time of the conquest of the territory by the Romans (third century BC).
Already many centuries ago Garda oil was known for its very high quality and was considered a luxury good: just think that in the Middle Ages five liters of oil were exchanged for “a big pig”, and that an edict of the 7th century established severe penalties for anyone who damaged olive trees.
This crop had become practically a symbol of the area, so much so that even the chronicles of the descent into Italy of Frederick I (or Frederick Barbarossa, “red beard”) in 1151 speak of the beautiful landscape designed by olive trees.
Cultivations grew more and more, and during the Renaissance were organized in the terraces that still sculpt the hills around Lake Garda. In the eighteenth century, the Serenissima Republic of Venice – which controlled the territory – ordered a census of oil mills: a total of 420, testifying to how much olive trees were an important element in the economy of Lake Garda.
In 1997, the European Union recognized the DPO mark for Garda oil, and today it is one of the first Italian olive oil producers in terms of quality.