The biggest olive tree in Europe, a tree of a circumference of 7 meters, grows in the territory of Canneto, a country ward of Fara in the Sabine area. This is not a chance location: the Sabine region is, traditionally, the land of origin of one of the most valued types of extra-virgin olive oil. Up until the post-war period after the second World War , the cultivation of olives was the principal resource of the economy of the region around Rieti. Today, the vocations of the inhabitants of Sabina have multiplied and diversified, but olive oil preserves the fame which it has earned from a tradition going back thousands of years (the Babylonian Hammurabi manuscript bears proof to the fact that the olive and its oil were known between the Euphrates and the Indus 1700 years before Christ).
During the last decades, the indications of preventive medicine have confirmed and exulted the virtues of extra-virgin oil: the cookery recipes, starting from the simple ‘bruschetta’ with just a thread of oil on bread flavoured with garlic, have adapted to the rules of moderation.
Without contesting the reputation of the olive oil from Rieti and the surrounding area, it remains to say that the olive and olive oil are a patrimony common to all the provinces of Lazio: the province of Rome takes the lead because, as far as quantity is concerned, it easily beats the Sabine region (eighty thousand quintals per year (160 thousand hundred weights) compared to fifty thousand (100 thousand hundred weights). The qualities are very similar due to the fact that the two provinces are adjacent.
There is a more pronounced and perceptible difference between the Sabine oil and that which comes from the hills around Viterbo. This is because the flavour of the latter tends to be somewhat bitter and spicey, whereas the aroma is more marked. The former type is golden-yellow in colour with greenish shades, and the other is green with shades of gold. The Sabine-Roman type is more delicate, whereas the products from Canino, Cellere and Farnese are more decided in flavour: the former is the type which is suitable for green salads or as a base for sauces, the latter for strongly-flavoured, raw vegetables, legumes or for enriching minestrone or other soups.