Reggello Oil: Ancient Roots and Legends

The terraces planted with vineyards and olive groves that dot the hills of Reggello represent an ancient agricultural practice dating back to the 14th century, as evidenced in notarial documents of the time and the Florentine land register of 1427. This age-old care of the land has shaped the landscape and helped create an ideal environment for olive cultivation, which is fundamental to the identity and economy of this region.
During the 15th century, olive oil was beginning to make its way into food use, although its production was limited and reserved for a privileged few. Nevertheless, documents of the time testify that even the lower classes used oil in their diets, albeit to a lesser extent than animal-based condiments.
Olive oil was also an important ingredient in religious ceremonies, used to keep the lamps lit during liturgical celebrations. This sacred role gave the oil a special importance, helping to make its production even more valuable.
The 1404 Statute of the League of Cascia actively promoted the cultivation of olive trees, demonstrating the economic and social importance of this sector to the local community. Over the following centuries, olive oil production in Reggello grew steadily, with more and more mills joining the local scene. By 1800, oil production had reached remarkable levels, so much so that the Plants of Popoli and Strade indicated the presence of twelve oil mills in the area that included the settlements of Cancelli, Cascia and Reggello alone. Emanuele Repetti, in his Dizionario geografico fisico storico della Toscana, states that olive trees and vines “constitute the major product of the Community of Reggello.”

The Oil of Reggello between Mythology and Reality

The Oil of Reggello Between Mythology and Reality: A Millennial Legend
In addition to its rich history, Reggello’s oil is also shrouded in a thousand-year-old legend that extols its value and divine character. According to this ancient narrative, Reggello oil draws its origins directly from the Olympian gods. During the sumptuous banquets of the gods, oil was a key ingredient for seasoning dishes, obtained by directly squeezing a fistful of olives. The task of squeezing these olives was entrusted to Panteus, a skilled presser. However, during one of these banquets, an unexpected event changed the fate of a single olive forever.
During the banquet, a minor accident caused one of the olives to squirt out of Pantheus’ hand and fall to the ground. This single olive, picked by an Etruscan merchant visiting Greece, was brought to Etruria and planted in Reggello. From that plant, Reggello oil was born, a unique and extraordinary product worthy of the Olympian gods themselves. This legend, passed down from generation to generation, continues to enchant and fascinate, adding a touch of mystery and magic to one of Tuscany’s most prized culinary treasures.