Today olives popularity is mainly associated with their quality as excellent and healthy foodstuff, but amazingly this aspect appears to be a recent matter. In ancient times the primary use of olives and oil was for religious celebrations, as prescriptions and lastly as a lamp-fuel for important buildings.
Ancient Mediterranean people regarded olive trees and their fruits mostly for their holiness, especially tied to the concept of Peace. Valuable examples are provided by the olive branch carried by a dove to Noah, celebrating the end of the deluge and the founding of Athens celebrated through the planting of an Olive tree by the Greek goddess Pallas Athena.
The Roman author Pliny the elder, who devoted the entire VX book of his Naturalis Historia to olives, affirms that up to the VI century BC the tree was not at all common in Italy, but by the IV century, starting from the south, olives had made it up to north Italy.
A proper food business started through the medieval monks, who re-planted a great number of plants, producing oil and table fruits, nevertheless olives remained closely tied with their religious meaning up today.
Olives are not simply a nourishment, but a sacred gift of nature!