Ercole Olivario Award
A prize for the Encouragement of Areas Renowned for the Production of Olive Oil in Italy
“The National Competition for the award Hercules Olivario to excellence olearie territorial Italian, born in 1993 by the Italian Union of Chambers of Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce of Perugia, now boasts over twenty editions. A space of time important, especially in an age of rapid and profound transformations. Our competition has experienced substantial changes: the party with about 100 participating companies, the Hercules has tripled its membership and has become, over the years, a fundamental point of reference not only for all those who move within the olive world but also for consumers, who see in our award recognition bestowed on those who produce quality in> sector of extra virgin. No coincidence that our event has become an important opportunity for constructive dialogue between the different Italian producers on the issues and on production and consumption of olive oil sector in Italy and abroad and on the best strategies to address markets increasingly globalized. If since 1993 in Italy has changed the common perception of extra, a small part of the credit goes to us and to all those who have worked on these various issues, each of which was a landmark in the enhancement of a product that the world symbolizes the made in Italy. Today the Hercules Olivario is the highest award from thousands of Italian manufacturers and is an important recognition of that man dedicated for millennia the olive and its precious oil. A product which, throughout history, has taken important values not only productive, but also symbolic, social, scenic, environmental and cultural and now makes a significant contribution to the image of the excellent Italian food in the world.
We tell, through a capillary work of selection, a fact which has about 225 million olive trees enclosed in 200 thousand hectares of olive groves. A unique heritage, a treasure that we must make us guarantee and promoter. Therefore the main purpose of the competition is to enhance and promote the best extra virgin olive oil Italian at the national and international markets, both through broad communication to the press and other media, both through projects capable of disseminating and emphasize the leadership of Italian industry. It is thanks to the synergy of all these players in the process that, year after year, the Hercules Olivario can provide a picture of an Italy virtuoso who produces quality work, commitment and love for a product which is in the DNA of this country. For all these reasons we decided to start this year a series of books dedicated to Italian olive-growing regions. An ideal path that would tell Italy of extra virgin focusing on several areas, cultivarsand especially the culinary excellence. The traditional cuisine and typical regional, its relationship with a food so vital and unique in our Mediterranean food culture. A heritage told by the protagonists of the table, the chef, who through their stories and their recipes will describe their relationship with the oil, their experience, region by region. We begin with Umbria, a tribute to the region that has always hosted the competition. A region of ancient traditions and typical food almost ancestral, revisited, interpreted and experienced by real talents. The star is always the oil, through commitment, hard work and the will of all those tenacious producers enable us every year to pick the fruit of their labor.
Chairman of the Coordination Committee Competition Hercules Olivario
Story lines and guide
Up to the 1990s olive growing in Italy was considered an area of knowledge of secondary importance, and the profits it made hardly covered the producer’s expenses. To remedy this situation, olive growers resolved to encourage the production and promotion of high quality products, and the Ercole Olivario Award became the tangible indication of this trend in the face of widespread scepticism. The competition has been running for many years, proving to be a great common enterprise of the oil-producing system, involving institutions, category associations and all the Italian olive-growing and manufacturing firms. Since 1993 the Award has been an example of the operational combination of public and private enterprise.
The Italian Chamber of Commerce Network and the main operators in the olive growing sector founded the Ercole Olivario Competition in 1993 to promote the value and significance of extra-virgin olive oil. Taking agricultural food production in Italy as a whole, it is clear that this product plays a primary role both from the economic and from the cultural point of view. Olive cultivations are a characteristic element of the Italian landscape as well as providing a typical product of outstanding importance.
Focussing on high quality olive oil the competition acknowledges the trend in European Union agricultural policies towards promoting the value of typical products in agricultural food production.
These policies are particularly important for a country like Italy, in which the promotion of typical products leads to a revival of significant elements of development throughout the productive system. For this reason the Ercole Olivario competition encourages the participation of oils having a Protected Denomination of Origin geographical indication (DOP), creating a specific section of the competition especially for them. In future, with the complete implementation of the certification system, the Ercole Olivario competition will be open exclusively to DOP oils. The central role of the DOP denomination derives from the conviction there are two good reasons for encouraging DOP production: It allows Italian producers to operate in a highly competitive context in Europe whilst at the same time offering consumers a guaranteed safeguard among the ever-wider range of products available on the market.
Our logo: the temple of Ercole Olivario
The symbol of the competition is a watercolour elaboration of the Temple of Ercole Olivario situated in the Foro Boario, in front of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome. The monument is an apt representation of the relationship that links the production of olive oil and its origins with some of the most important archaeological and monumental artefacts from the ancient world and with the classical culture of that world. Dedicated to the mythical god Hercules, patron saint of agriculture, the temple was built in the 1st century BC, paid for by the ancient Roman corporation of olive oil producers, who exported their produce to every part of the Empire, loading it onto the ships that docked in the oldest port in Rome, on the banks of the River Tiber, overlooked by the façade of this historic building. For a long time the temple was mistakenly called the Temple of Vesta, because of its similarity to the circular Vesta Temple in the Roman Forum, which is unique. Today, however, it is recognized and identified by its true name, thanks to archaeological documentation and research into the mentions in literature by Latin authors. In the middle ages the temple was transformed into a church and named Santa Maria del Sole because of its circular shape, which was evocative of the relationship between the sun and agricultural production. The archaeological and monumental origins of the building were fully recognized only in 1935. Because of its majestic fluted columns and precious Corinthian capitals it is the most significant example of classical Greek architecture present in Italy today. The monument is one of the only three Roman temples that have survived intact to this day. The other two are the nearby Temple of Portunus and of course, the Pantheon.
The National Jury is nominated by the Award’s Coordination Committee and is made up of 16 tasters, representing each of the 16 olive growing regions. Members of the jury are chosen from amongst those enrolled in the register for experts and technicians in the field of virgin and extra-virgin olive oil. Within the jury there are set protocols to ensure the rotation of tasters from each olive growing region from year to year. These protocols are in line with one of the main objectives of the event, which is to assist in promoting the role of olive oil tasters and the improvement in tasting techniques at a regional level. During the week before the final day of the award, when the winners will be announced, a special room is laid out in Spoleto and devoted to tasting. The 16 jury members work there, around the clock, to select the winners. They are assisted in their work by a Panel Leader nominated by the Coordination Committee. The Jury carries out the organoleptic testing of the finalist oils using the guidelines and forms determined for this purpose by the Coordination Committee.
The National Ercole Olivario Competition is organized by:
• The Italian Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Craft and Agriculture
• Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Craft and Agriculture in Perugia, with the significant support of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
With the support of:
• Regional Union of Chambers of Commerce I.A.A. of Latium and Sardinia
With the contribution of:
• Regional Union of Chambers of Commerce I.A.A. of Abruzzi, Apulia and Umbria
• National Union of the Associations of Olive Producers
• Chamber of Commerce of Terni
• Italian Consortium of Olive Producers
• National Consortium of Olive Growers
• Italian Trade Promotion Agency
With the participation of:
• National Academy of Olive Trees and Olive Oil
• Experimental Institute for Oil Production Techniques
With the Collaboration of:
• Municipality of Giano dell’Umbria
• Municipality of Spoleto
• Municipality of Torgiano
• Municipality of Perugia