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Thanks to the continual evolution and progress in cultivation techniques, especially in the twentieth century, olive growing has become of great economic and social importance in almost every province of the Region despite the differences among them in structure, climate and cultivation.

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The province of Florence is the biggest for olive production in Tuscany for the quantity of olives harvested and oil produced by the greater concentration of trees planted.
 
In addition to the hills of Florence, the olive groves are found in three large homogeneous areas: Montalbano in the east towards the province of Pistoia, Chianti to the south of Florence with olive groves alternating with vineyards, and the slopes of Pratomagno which, again southwards, borders on the province of Arezzo.
Olive cultivation, however, is much more composite: the immediate city outskirts to the east give way on the one hand to an area as far as Rufina in the north, and along the Arno river as far as the spur of Vallombrosa on the other. The oil produced in these areas, each with their own quite distinctive characteristics, is light and fruity with a marked vegetal note reminiscent of artichoke, mown hay and medicinal herbs.
There are many important oil-producing towns in this area including Bagno a Ripoli with its olive-growing excellence and its many activities linked to it. 
Pontassieve and the area by Rufina are also important, where oil from the trees planted higher up is more refined than from the trees down in the valley. The area of Florence also includes the part that stretches from Pelago, south of Rufina, to Reggello, bordering on the province of Arezzo, which of the many olive-growing areas of Tuscany is perhaps the one with the most singular homogeneity of climactic conditions affecting soil, the actual nature of the land and, even more for its general south- western exposure.
To the south of Florence, we come to the foothills of the higher, more varied area of Chianti where the oil has a particularly vigorous fragrance. Here, too, there are many towns where the culture of oil runs parallel with that of wine: Scandicci, Impruneta, San Casciano Val di Pesa, Mercatale and Barberino Val d'Elsa to mention just a few.
The area of Chianti Classico stretches south east from here over the provinces of both Florence and Siena where the main town is Greve in Chianti.
To the west, towards Empoli, the most important areas are Empoli, Montespertoli and Certaldo. On the other side of the river, to the north you come to the two sides of Montalbano, with Vinci to the west and Carmignano (which is under Prato) to the east and coming full circle clockwise back to Florence we reach the slopes above Prato up to Sesto Fiorentino and Fiesole.
 
The main varieties of olive trees in the area of Florence are Frantoio, Moraiolo, Leccino and Pendolino, with the latter used especially for pollinating.

Published: 16/2/2014

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