The wide range of olive tastes in Italy might surprise you. The Cerignola Olive ranges from vibrant green to olive green in color, and is quite large. They are cured with lye; there is no vinegar taste and the olive isn’t salty. That makes them great for eating with a glass of wine, and you’ll find them as snacks in many a bar in Puglia.
The olives are named after the town of Cerignola in the Foggia province of Puglia.
Puglia is Italy’s biggest producer of olive oil, so everywhere you go you’ll see olive groves. What struck me as I did an archaeological survey of the heel of Italy’s boot in the 1980s was the care the trees got. Each tree was frequently raked below in concentric circles. It was as if each gnarled little tree was part of a zen garden. The reason for this is that in former times the olives were simply allowed to fall to the ground, where they fermented and made inferior oil. Today the olives fall into nets and Puglian olive oil is now considered a prime producer of fine olive oil.
We bought the olives you see in the picture at a street market in Sarzana in Liguria. They were labled “Bari” after the city in Puglia.