There is no clear indication of the precise moment when olives were first cultivated on the land around Garda. Some writings mention a climatically favourable period between the 3rd century BC and the 3rd century AD, to which an initial, slow but progressive introduction of olive growing can be traced.
This is confirmed by various plant residues discovered by archaeological and palynological studies. The first documentary evidence is found in Columella’s “De Agricultura”, which mentions the presence of olive trees in the northern extremity of the Italian peninsula, or, more precisely, in areas where the establishment of olive trees would have been impossible only a few centuries previously.
Various remains of oil presses found in Roman country villas from this period also provide an important and clear indication. However, it is the edict of Rotari, dated to 643 AD, that gives absolute certainty regarding the key role that olives had assumed in the Garda area. Severe fines were imposed on anyone caught damaging the trees.
The earlier cultivation became more organised, particularly during the Middle Ages, which was a golden age for the first and most significant steps in Garda’s olive growing.
The great importance given to olive trees can be clearly seen from the charters of the various communities around the lake. Whoever owned land was encouraged to plant between two and four trees each year.
This was not simply a recommendation, but a duty that had to be fulfilled. Nothing should be considered as if it were simply acquired. The beauty of the landscape and the goodness and delicacy of Garda oil are the result of the history of the land, which is a direct expression of human ingenuity and untiring labour.
The generations of farmers who managed, through their efforts, to grow olives in an area recognised as extreme, even if mitigated by natural defence systems, are a clear indication of an act of great love and dedication.
All products marketed as Garda DOP Extra Virgin Olive Oil must display a numbered label on the packaging.
This numbering indicates the conformity of the product and production process and is issued once these have passed inspections requested by the company bottling the oil.
The main characteristics of Garda DOP are its light to medium fruity fragrance and fruity flavour, with a hint of bitterness and pungency, followed by an almond aftertaste.
It varies in colour from shades of green to yellow and has a medium or light fruity bouquet with possible herbaceous notes.
The Local Area
There is a lake on whose shores olive trees put down stable and solid roots a long time ago.
This is Lake Garda, Italy’s largest freshwater basin, which spans and unites three regions: Lombardy, Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige.
Its rural areas have a special microclimate favourable to plants less resistant to cold, especially during winter months.
The lake’s waters provide the fertile soil, of glacial origin, with sufficient heat and moisture to ensure the long life and vitality of the olives.
Curator — Consorzio di Tutela Olio Extra Vergine di Oliva Garda