The Olive Trees
“The whole Mediterranean, the sculpture, the palms, the gold beads, the bearded heroes, the wine, the ideas, the ships, the moonlight, the winged gorgons, the bronze men, the philosophers – all of it seems to rise in the sour, pungent taste of these black olives between the teeth. A taste older than meat, older than wine. A taste as old as cold water.”*
*”Prospero’s Cell” by Lawrence Durrell.
In prehistoric and historic Corfu, the olive tree was just a secondary cultivation. The island was then internationally well-known for the cultivation of the vine and for the famous “Anthosmias Oenos” (Thucydides), the wine that smelled like flowers.
The olive tree would predominate, the Corfu countryside in the Venetian period, when they financed the development of the olive groves, in order to reinforce production and trade of olive oil , both as a product for nutrition and as a means of light. Today Corfu and the nearby islands are full of olive trees.
Approximately four million trees, over six metres tall create the sensation of an extended forest. Special laws protect olive trees today reminding us that similar laws have existed since the time of the famous Athenian legislator Solon in the 6th century BC. The cultivation in Corfu is different from that in the rest of the world.
Here the olives are left to mature and to fall off the trees. This way, the oil which is produced has increased acidity, but it also has big amounts of substances which are beneficial to the function of the heart and the vessels.
Walk under the shadow of the olive trees. Stop to have a picnic in the olive groves. Search, and if you’re lucky, you will find trees over 1000 years old. You will recognize them by the size of the trunk. Such olive trees can be found i.e. in the area of Agios Matthaios, at Agios Prokopios, at Arkadades and in many other places of Corfu and Paxos.