In April 2020, when Wildekrans Country House’s olive team was safely at home, our family of four were left to harvest the one hundred odd trees planted by us twenty years ago. Not being skilled at the task, we were not speedy, threatening our appointment at the Anysbos press, first thing the following day. When darkness closed in, husband Barry cut off the unharvested branches, carrying them to the light of the kitchen, where we were able to pull off those remaining.
Chianti’s olives ripened later this year, enabling me to exercise my new skill for a day. This time in full gorgeous autumnal Chianti light, followed by the journey to our chosen press, en route to Arezzo. All the chat this week has been around comparing kg’s harvested and how these compared to last year, which in our area was horrid due to an untimely and vicious frost.
Friends, Mimma and Franco Ferrando, expressed that their reduced loot was ‘non importante’ as olives are about oil for family and friends, and your olive trees are merely an extension of your home. This is well illustrated by the property just above us. Andrea Borghi lives between Adine and Siena where he works in the banking sector. When not banking, you will see him pacing on his terrace where he practices his passion for drama.
We hope you will share in some of this dolce vita next year. Stay at Casa di Simonetta, you can be one or eight or anything in between. We are in the process of building a small swimming pool. Chianti permissions take time and strictly control the Etruscan heritage, hence the sustained beauty. Very little has changed in twenty years. Enquire here
If traveling abroad is not part of your plan, the sweet life can be experienced right here at Wildekrans Country House. We are walking the Blue Mountain this week. We have spaces on our 20 December Green Mountain. But you don’t have to walk to rest here. Book here
Michael Waters’ Black Olives was published in 2006. I had never read his poetry, it can be addictive. It is possibly dark, save for a robust day.
In those days while my then-wife
taught English to a mustached young nurse who hoped to join
her uncle’s practice in Queens,
I’d sip gin on our balcony and listen to her
read aloud from the phrasebook,
then hear the student mimic, slowly, Where does it hurt?
then my wife repeat those words
so the woman might enunciate each syllable,
until I could no longer
bear it, so I’d prowl the Ambelokipi district
attempting to decipher
titles emblazoned on marquees—My Life As A Dog,
Runaway Train, Raging Bull—
then stroll past dark shops that still sold only one item—
kerosene, soap, cheese, notebooks—
to step down into the shop that sold olives, only
olives in barrels riddling
a labyrinth of dank aisles and buttressing brick walls.
I’d sidle among squat drums,
fingering the fruit, thumbing their inky shine, their rucked
skins like blistered fingertips,
their plump flesh, the rough salts needling them, judging their cowled heft, biding my time. Always
I’d select a half-kilo of the most misshapen,
wrinkled and blackest olives
sprung from the sacred rubble below Mt. Athos, then
had to shout “Fuck Kissinger!”
three times before the proprietor would allow me
to make my purchase, then step
back out into the smut-stirred Athens night to begin
the slow stroll home, bearing now
my little sack of woe, oil seeping through brown paper,
each olive brought toward my mouth
mirroring lights flung from marquees and speeding taxis,
each olive burning its coal-
flame of bitterness and history into my tongue.
PS: Taste our Chianti and Houw Hoek olive oils when staying at our four star TGCSA graded accommodation in the Elgin Valley.