It’s the smell of the olives turning into oil Caroline Simpson can’t get over.
“You walk inside this tiny, small, family owned space and watch olive oil being produced, olives being washed, sorted, pitted, peeled. It was such an intimate experience,” Simpson said.
Listening to Simpson describe the immersive farmstay in Italy she took part in last year through New York-based Especially Puglia it’s hard to not immediately make a reservation for the week-long trip.
“Everyday I was just speechless, it was experiences you just couldn’t have anywhere else,” Simpson said.
Started by Michele Iadarola, who grew up in Puglia and wanted to introduce consumers to his robust, food-producing heritage, Especially Puglia allows customers to adopt an olive tree, wherein you select a particular grove, receive a certificate of adoption and lots of extra virgin oil from that grove or buy a FarmShare box, a seasonally appropriate share of Puglia goodies like oil, pasta, jarred artichokes and tapenades, and now farmstays, debuted last year and currently accepting reservations for this fall.
“It’s a way for us to allow our customers to experience the olive oil harvest,” Iadarola said.
During the tour visitors experience the olive oil harvest, make olive oil, take cooking classes, including one making pasta with Iadarola’s mom and visit Puglia farms and producers.
While many companies offer some sort of a farm stay in Italy, Especially Puglia’s differs in that it’s a literally a visit to their owner’s hometown.
The farmstays are small, no more than seven people, and last a week with several different weeks being offered during olive oil harvesting season in October and November. Prices start at $3,200 per person for double occupancy room. Tour goers stay at local hotels or on the farms they visit and travel to the National Park of Gargano, and UNESCO sites of Castel del Monte as well as other top tourist destinations.
“For anyone that decides to go, I’m envious in the best possible way,” Simpson said.
Photos courtesy of Michele Iadarola.