At the Olive Farm

Montaperto Travel Blog

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Here we are at the Azienda Agricola Taibi, staying in the "farmhouse" that is really a very nice country home for the family. The olives are beautiful, and we got some really nice shots of them early in the morning when two of the workers were loading them from the tractor into the big crates on the truck. We were able to shoot from the rooftop deck above the house, maximizing the effect of the sunlight on the green and purple fruit.

Last night the water seemed to disappear from the house.  I hoped it would miraculously return in the morning (thinking of the film "Jean de Florette" where the lack of water was the main issue.)  I didn't want to bother the family last night, so this morning we got out early to shoot some overhead, early light footage of the mysterious woman in white, then came back and called Francesco about the water. He called his wonderful 81-year-old father who drove over here pretty quickly to open the garage and turn on the pump.  Why the pump stopped is one of those shoulder-shrugging Italian moments. He asked if we had had breakfast yet, and I figured out that he'd like to have breakfast with us.  Stephen whipped up an omelet (bless him) while Gherlando explained family history to me by walking around the room and introducing all his ancestors, photograph by photograph. He is gracious enough to try to slow down and/or repeat some phrases so that I can get most of his Italian…or so I imagine!

We find fascinating similarities and contrasts between the grape and olive harvests. Certainly the actions of repetition: carrying, dumping, transferring of the fruit are very familiar. Yet the primary posture in the olive trees is standing, leaning somewhat back and looking up to comb the olives off the branches. In the vines, the posture is mostly bending over or kneeling to reach the grapes. Both tasks are hard on the back.  The two youngest  workers here, Angelo and Alio, do the heavy lifting, that is they gather up the nets full of olives and lug them over to the tractor/truck and hoist and dump them into the hopper.

We've been working with a group of five, although another team has started the harvest also to try to keep ahead of the rain that is expected on Thursday.  Lucky for me, Giuseppe and Salvatore both speak French because they spent years working in Belgium. The economy is pretty poor here. They told me that very few folks have steady work or can make enough to raise a family here…all because of "the organization."  There is an election soon, and we've been seeing small signs that say something like: "A vote for the Mafia again is a vote to humiliate Sicily."  or one cautioning against taking money for your vote.

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1,571 km (976 miles) traveled
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photo by: jsbuck1