Your tour begins with love story...
In 1910, in a villa that is now part of Palombaro estate, the famous politician Guido Pompilj was found dead. He was next to the corpse of his recently deceased wife, the poet Vittoria Aganoor. His death was by suicide. He did not want to live without her.
Pompilj was a hero to many in this part of Umbria. He had been the main mover in protecting Lake Traisimeno from speculators that wanted to dredge it, which would have destroyed the lake.
After their Romeo & Juliet like passing, another somewhat famous person who similarly had lost a deeply loved wife, the musicologist Riccardo Rossi Schnabl, also built a life in scenic Monte del Lago. He was a magnet for many early 20th century rich and famous to visit the area. Puccini was one of the regulars.
On the tour you are walked through all the steps of olive oil making. It begins with the day of harvest when the first squeezing is done for 45 minutes. A large stone smashes the fruit to create a cream. The oil rises from the cream, giving it s sparkle. Then, this cream is put on a disk and pressed upwards. The remaining solids, called sansa, are used for fertilizer and heating. A de-cantering step separates the oil from any water. Today, modern centrifuges are used. The oil is then put in large stainless steel containers. It is no longer hand bottled, as it was fifteen years ago, and the terra cotta looking 14th century jars are also no longer in use.
Luca Palombaro is the 4th Generation Member of His Family to Live on this Land
This view, this land and perhaps this famous love history were similarly attractive to Luca Palombaro’s great grandfather, who had recently made his fortune selling wood for railroad ties. It was this fortune that bought the first Palombaro lands here. In 1960 Luca Palombaro’s grandfather then also bought the Castel di Zocco where Luca Palombaro’s olive oil factory and tasting rooms now are.
Luca Palombaro’s goal is to keep this oil mill small—only processing olives from the approximately 1000 plants that they grow on their lands, all having the shared terroire of facing the lake.
It’s in the Palace, now olive oil factory, that you get a tour of both the more ancient ways of making olive oil. You learn how and why some methods are preserved, while others allow the use of modern technology. Restoring the oil mill as a sort of living museum is one of Palombaro’s passions. But, he leaves all the marketing to his most capable and personable assistant Rosanna Milone, a one-time California resident who gets your American mindset.
Together they are creating the tasting room and events that open up your mind, and taste buds, to experience their products as olive oil sommeliers and connoisseurs do. As you munch local breads lightly toasted and brushed with one of their type oils, your quick course goes over how to pair a particular oil with a particular dish. You leave well fed and happy. Better yet, by summer 2019 there will be bigger party spaces on the Palombaro estate where these type tastings events will be held outdoors, as well as weddings and the like.
Tip: After the tasting, do save time to wander the Monte del Lago hilltop hamlet and look down from different perches to the lake below. Those with architectural interest will likely especially be interested in how Dutch architect Fred Theijsmeijer is actively restoring many of the historic buildings you see as you wander the hamlet’s streets.
Visits to Palombaro can be arranged via the Divertimento Group's--
Chiara’s Podere Molinaccio
Raffa’s Poggio del Pero.