The history of the Nocellara del Belice olive is 2,700 years old. Sicily, particularly the Belice Valley area, has been colonised at various times over the course of the centuries. The land was subjected in turn by the Sicani, Elymians, Phoenicians and Greeks, followed by the Romans, Normans, Arabs and Spaniards.
The reason for this is simple. Located in the heart of the Mediterranean, Sicily has always been prized by the great military and political powers of each era, due to its landscape and productive wealth. Traces of their settlements are still visible today and provide a great attraction for tourists, together with the natural beauty of the island and the quality of its typical products.
The imposing ruins of the ancient city of Selinunte, a Greek colony of the 7th century BC, can be seen In the Belice Valley. For a long period, this remained a highly strategic garrison in terms of the production of oil and food. This was clearly confirmed by the discovery of ancient stone mills in the vicinity of the temples, which date back to the 5th century BC.
The use of this product as a table olive dates back to the start of the 20th century, due to the efforts of some of the local olive growers.
Valle del Belice DOP Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a source of antioxidants and therefore provides protection from the damage caused by free radicals. It is rich in oleic acid, particularly resistant to oxidation and stable at high temperatures, therefore easily digestible, and has an ideal alpha-linolenic acid to linoleic acid ratio, similar to that of breast milk.
The oil has extraordinary health-enhancing properties: it reduces cell ageing, helps prevent cardiovascular disease, maintains a high level of HDL (good cholesterol), helps prevent the development of certain cancers, is a balancing factor for hypertension, strengthens the immune system, acts as a remedy for digestive disorders and is recommended in the diet of older people.
After harvesting, the olives are carefully transported to the mill and undergo an aspiration and washing process, which frees them from any traces of earth, twigs and leaves.
The process of transforming them into extra virgin olive oil then begins. The latest technologies are used to ensure the utmost hygiene and quality, not only improving the preservation of the product, but also helping to maintain the health-enhancing properties that knowledgeable consumers look for in extra-virgin olive oil.
No chemicals are used at any stage during pressing, extraction, or any other part of the extra-virgin olive oil production process.
The Local Area
The Valle del Belice DOP Extra Virgin Olive Oil area overlooks the Strait of Sicily, not far from the continent of Africa, and enjoys a unique microclimate, which, together with the red Mediterranean soils, provides the ideal conditions for olive growing.
The Belice Valley comprises the area in which the river Belice flows. The valley is in the western part of Sicily and occupies an area between the provinces of Palermo, Trapani and Agrigento.There is an important archaeological site near Rocca d’Entella, famous for the so-called Decrees of Entella.
The area probably also included the location of the ancient site of Nakone, of which traces are preserved in two scanty literary references, various coin discoveries and the so-called Decrees of Nakone, which are comparable to those of Entella.
The main economic resource of the Belice Valley is agri-food production and olive growing. It has been this way since the settlement of the first populations and the birth of Selinunte, whose inhabitants cultivated and propagated the olive tree, colonising valleys and fertile lands in the interior, and producing oil.
According to Pliny, Selinunte was an important city for trade with Magna Graecia and the Mediterranean Sea, thanks to its naval fleet and the local food products, such as wine, cereals and oil.
Olives were already one of the main crops the Belice Valley in the 17th century; an ecotype has evolved since the 18th century, adapting to the local climatic conditions of over the years to produce one of the most renowned Italian cultivars: Nocellara del Belice.
The Valle del Belice DOP Extra Virgin Olive Oil production area includes 6 municipalities in the province of Trapani: Campobello di Mazara, Castelvetrano, Partanna, Santa Ninfa, Poggioreale and Salaparuta.
Curator — Consorzio di tutela Olio DOP Valle del Belice