The history of the mill, the history of Ligurian extra virgin olive oil
The history of the ancient oil mill and that of the precious Ligurian extra virgin olive oil go hand in hand from time immemorial, carrying on that peasant and oil mill tradition that is an integral part of western Liguria.
It was 1932 when the San Martino Mill was bought by the great-grandparents of the current owners, Maurizio and Claudio: part of a family already rooted in the world of oil production, the great-grandparents travelled from Chiusavecchia, in the nearby Impero Valley, to take possession of the mill in Dolcedo, in the Prino Valley. The San Martino Mill, historic building well-known in the area, was already active at the time and produced high-quality oil for the various customers in the valley and beyond. In the following decades, the management of the mill changed hands, remaining however always in the family: it was the great-aunt Vincenza who, alone, for a long time took care of the production of olive oil and other products from the territory.
Today Maurizio and Claudio, heirs of the ancient mill activity, have decided to take the baton and continue the production already active within the typical Ligurian oil mill. Far from wanting to interrupt the long family tradition, the two young brothers decided to focus entirely on a slow, careful production, giving life to a precious collection of products linked to high-quality olive oil and Taggiasca olives.
Thanks to the decision to keep the production unchanged, the ancient family oil mill can still bear the name of the “first cold pressing” of olives, a centuries-old method of oil manufacturing that consists in pressing olives through two granite millstones driven by the wheel of a water mill – now replaced by electricity – and the subsequent extraction of oil through a hydraulic press which crushes the olive paste. The traditional production is accompanied by the recovery of land and crops, thanks to the upgrading of some hectares of family olive groves abandoned in time and now back to being active.
The PDO and the link to the territory
In line with the PDO Riviera Ligure certification that one of the precious extra virgin oils produced by the mill can boast, the entire production and the meaning of the recovery initiative are closely linked to the territory: the San Martino Oil Mill, located in Dolcedo, on the bank of the Rio dei Boschi torrent from which in the past came the mill’s driving force, is an integral part of the historical production of oil and other products related to the Taggiasca and the Ligurian territory.
Its life is connected with that of Dolcedo so much that the name itself comes from the small chapel dedicated to San Martino (Saint Martin) that can still be visited in the village.
The production of oil and olives itself is inextricably intertwined with the history of Dolcedo and the surrounding valleys, where the roots of the olive mill tradition go back to the Eleventh century, when the Benedictine monks of the St. Thomas Church brought with them the culture of olive tree and spread it in the area. Today, after almost a thousand years, the ancient olive trees have remained and continue to gift those who grow them with fruits that are outstanding for the body, the mind and the palate.
The Taggiasca variety and the Ligurian extra-virgin olive oil
The area of Dolcedo and the surrounding valleys behind Imperia is famous for the production of the delicious and precious Taggiasca olive variety. The Taggiasca takes its name from the town of Taggia, where it was first introduced in the Eleventh century by the monks of San Colombano, coming from the monastery island of Lerino. The fruits ripen towards the end of January, have high yield and produce a very fine extra virgin olive oil, with a characteristic yellow colour, slightly fruity in flavour with a definite sweet sensation. Also, the organoleptic qualities of this cultivar make the olives so appetizing that they can be consumed in oil or in simple brine.
The San Martino Mill today
Today the San Martino Mill can count on its own local production of Taggiasca olives from about 1000 plants in the territory of Dolcedo and another 1000 in the area of Andora. Parts of the estate are also the historic building of the ancient oil mill (which can be visited with a guided tour on reservation), partly dedicated to the production of oil and partly used as a holiday farm, and a vegetable garden from which the local Ligurian products are available on our e-shop for direct sales.