The olive oil is produced from a tree which is sacred. It gives wood for fire, for heat. It gives the olive oil which is for condiment, for cooking, but also for light, you know, for oil lamps, and the olives to eat, which is practically complete. --Antonio Carluccio, chef
I've collected a series of short videos that illustrate how olive oil is grown, harvested and turned into extra virgin olive oil.
In the first video below, a a small scale fattoria (farm with a small production facility) in the mountains of Liguria is shown harvesting their olives on terraced slopes by climbing up into the trees and raking the olives onto large nets. The olive oil production is done my fairly small farm machinery.
In the next video, there is a broader view of larger scale, modern olive oil production where trees are harvested by machines that shake the olives loose and collect them in one step...
The next video is a look at the Brizi olive oil factory in Montefalco, Umbria which makes extra virgin olive oil using the traditional "cold pressed" method with modern machinery. Note at the end of the video that the spent, dried cardboard-looking paste sheets are ground up to be sent to another facility which extracts a lesser grade olive oil from them. It's a good illustration of where the supermarket variety, tasteless olive oil might come from.
The next shows a simple approach to olives and the oil produced... "We don't pick olives for profit... we do it because we have a certain love for these things." Hard world for the a couple of hundred gallons of oil...
The final video illustrates the amazing size and age of the olive trees in Puglia in Southern Italy. As it turns out, today there are over 60 million olive threes in Puglia with the oldest trees being carbon dated to well over 200 years old. And yes, they still produce olives.