The olive tree is the first among all the trees. Olea prima omnium arborum est. Lucius Iunius Moderatus Columella, 1st century AD
For about six thousand years, the history of the Mediterranean has recorded, among the most valuable arboreal species, the presence of the olive tree. Probably the plant had its original habitat in Syria and it is supposed that the first who thought of transforming a wild essence into a domestic species were the Semitic peoples; from Syria it passed to Greece from where it spread to the rest of the ancient peoples of the Mediterranean. The strong point of the olive growing in Campania, like viticulture, is represented by an extremely rich and diversified varietal heritage. This enormous wealth in terms of biodiversity stems from the combination of a series of unparalleled historical and environmental circumstances that, by favoring the acclimatization and establishment of the different varieties over the course of long centuries of olive cultivation, have made the region a unique territory on the of the vocation to the cultivation of the olive tree. In Campania Felix the olive tree has found its ideal character: the often volcanic nature of the land and the typically Mediterranean climate have favored the spread of this crop which, in addition to the economic aspects, is also particularly important for the protection of the territory and the protection of the landscape. There is evidence of the presence of the olive tree cultivation in Irpinia since Roman times, but the maximum diffusion occurred in the Angevin era in the XIII and XIV century, and was consolidated in the Aragonese period, reaching its maximum development in the nineteenth century. Irpinia boasts expanses of ancient trees throughout the province, but especially on the hills of Ufita, the heart of Irpinia olive growing. The first direct citations date back to 1517, where among the assets of the specifications of the chair of Ariano Irpino figure the incentive for the cultivation of the olive tree. There are also numerous historical testimonies related to the great influence that this cultivation had on the economy of the rural populations of the area, which specialized not only in the production of oil, but also that of amphorae able to contain the already sought after product. As for the vine, also for the olive tree is crucial for the high quality of production, the pedoclimatic environment characteristic of Irpinia: the nature of the land, rich in volcanic sediments and the climate, influenced by the presence of the Apennine ridge that crosses the entire territory. Extra virgin olive oil for its organoleptic characteristics and undisputed nutritional value, and based on the latest research, for nutraceutical aspects, is the cornerstone of the Mediterranean Diet.
A peculiarity of Irpinia olive growing is represented by the presence of an autochthonous variety of great value, the Ravece, also known as Curatone and Olivona. It is a rustic variety, highly appreciated for its constant productivity and for the high quality of the oil obtained from it, although the yield is rather low and does not exceed 16%. The Ravece is recognized for its green color, if young, or straw yellow; the scent is fruity with herbaceous notes, but above all the hints of green tomato stand out, sometimes even artichoke, typically conferred by the variety, distinctly perceivable also when tasted. The taste is harmonious, with intense but pleasant bits of bitter and spicy.