The Italian Almanac

olive tree

Italian News - August 20

Puglia has taken the first step in fighting the loss of its ancient olive trees, which have become the latest lifestyle accessory for well-to-do Northern Italians. The centuries-old trees have become hot property in areas such as Veneto and Lombardy, where they grow with great difficulty, but Puglia is the first southern region to fight back with a bill aimed at protecting its natural treasures.

While the trade in trees started at the end of the 1990s, it's enjoyed a particular upsurge over the last two years - ironically on the back of a growing 'green' trend which has made ancient expensive trees the chic alternative to ancient expensive artworks - and prices have accordingly soared. When the fashion first emerged in 1999, wealthy homeowners were paying about 1,200 Euro for a tree but prices now start at five thousand Euro for younger specimens of around 100 and range up to 12,000 Euro for trees hitting the 500-year mark.

The older trees are not only valuable rarities but are prized for the gnarled and twisted shapes they assume, attesting to their 'authenticity'. Some have also attributed their popularity to the craze for all things Mediterranean, a quality that Northern Italians particularly associate with their more traditional cousins in the south.