The olive has always been a sacred tree in the Mediterranean – a symbol of peace, wisdom, strength, and fertility. Considering the scanty soil of the region, the olive fruit was a true treasure. In certain historical periods, olives were used as money, and they also found their place in Greek and Egyptian mythologies.
In terms of quality, olive oil is divided into several types – extra virgin, virgin, olive oil, and sansa oil. The most valued among them is extra virgin olive oil for which you will gladly go that extra mile to taste it! Some olive groves in Croatia offer olive picking, while the rest provide numerous delicacies for you to enjoy – perhaps right under the shade of a centuries-old olive tree. Autumn is the perfect time to visit olive groves because that is when olives are picked for food, while they are still unripe. If, however, you wish to experience olive picking for the production of oil, you will definitely have to come back to the Adriatic during November and December. Do not forget to bring home as a souvenir from your trip a bottle or two of this elixir of life.
The production of olive oil in Istria began several thousands of years ago. Brijuni, Barbariga, and Poreč have since antiquity been famous as locations with ancient oil mills and workshops for the production of amphorae that were used to transport olive oil. Some of the most well-known indigenous varieties of olives are the Buža, Istrian Bjelica, Oblica, Črnica, Rošinjola, Buža Puntoža, and many others. Today, Istria produces one of the most esteemed and top olive oils in the world, all thanks to its perfect taste, fragrance, and colour. This is corroborated by the Flos Olei – the most comprehensive guide to the world’s best extra virgin olive oils, which pronounced Istria as this year’s best olive region in the world. Whether on your skin, hair, or taste buds – Istrian olives will give you a royal treatment!
It is estimated that there are about 4.5 million olive trees growing in Dalmatia. In other words, the number of olive trees in Dalmatia is greater than the population of Croatia as a whole. The largest Dalmatian island of Brač is home to roughly 500,000 of them. The secret to the success of the olives in this region lies in the fact that Dalmatia has an average of 2600 hours of sun per year. The most widespread olive variety in Dalmatia is definitely the Oblica, whose oil is sweet and absolutely perfect for fish specialties. It is well known that Croatian women are among the most beautiful in the world (perhaps thanks to the benefits of olive oil used from an early age), but this Dalmatian beauty will definitely take your breath away!
Dubrovnik and Šipan’s favourite pick
Dubrovnik and its surroundings are also famous for their olive oil, and many of them are winners of the shiniest medals in international competitions. Although small in area, the island of Šipan unveils many interesting facts related to olives. According to an old folk custom, a young girl who was preparing for marriage had to plant a few olive trees. Also, Šipan is entered into the Guinness Book of Records as the island with the most olive trees in relation to its population. This favourite pick of true gourmets will also enter your book of records for the finest taste already after the first few drops!
During your holiday stay in Croatia you definitely must visit the Olive Gardens of Lun on the island of Pag and its 80,000 olive trees spread over 400 hectares of land. Among them you will find an old “lady” who has been here since the time of Jesus Christ. We are referring to an olive tree that is 2000 years old! If you do not believe it, take a trip to Pag and see for yourself. Measure the diameter of the tree, divide it by two to get the radius, and then convert the result into millimetres. Every millimetre represents a year in the tree’s age.
And that’s that, the calculation is so easy, isn’t it?