Another stop on our tour was at Pruneti Olive Oil Mill where we learned about the process of growing olives, care of the olive trees and pressing olives for oil. This small, family-owned mill only produces extra virgin olive oil. We toured the facility and then did an olive oil tasting, sans bread.
Our taste-test leader, Emanuele, was very serious about olive oil. When someone in our group suggested mixing balsamic vinegar with olive oil for dipping bread, he held up his hand in a stop gesture and said, “If you are going to mix balsamic vinegar with olive oil, please, just don’t tell me.” A purist, I thought.
From Gaida, the Villa owner, to the people at the goat farm, to Sergio the potter, to Emanuele, what amazed me the most about them was their passion. Each of them works very hard and each has a pride in her or his work.
Perhaps it is in the nature of the people of Italy or perhaps these hand-selected folks were the perfect choices to show and teach us about Italian life and culture. I was continually impressed with the level of passion we observed at each of our stops.
Since returning home, though, I have wondered where I could find that kind of passion here, where I could find people willing to commit their lives to what they love, even if it is hard work with little monetary reward. I wondered about my own passion and commitment. What is it that gets me juiced up? that animates me? that burns so brightly inside me that others can’t help but notice?