The title of this blog was originally going to be “Umbra Students Harvest Olives” or “A Day In The Olive Orchard,” but the frequency with which the phrase “Che bello!” was uttered on Saturday made it impossible to use anything else as a title. The day started at Perugia’s traditional meeting point, the Steps of the cathedral in the main piazza. Staff members Dave Dickson and Zachary Nowak then took the students on a short bus ride to the hills outside of Perugia, where after a ten minute hike, they were in the middle of an orchard.
Once there they were quickly outfitted by their host for the day, the charming and affable Roberto Orazi, with all the necessary tools. Before long Umbra students were spreading huge nets under the olive trees and picking away. The sun was shining and while the students probably didn’t win any records for kilos picked in an hour, it was “…quality time with friends and olives!” as Umbra student Hilaire Pickett joked. Umbra creative writing professor Cynthia Clough and staff member Mauro Renna also joined the group. Lunch was the traditional olive-pickers repast, sausages (homemade by Zach), marinated eggplant slices, potatoes, and (of course) bruschetta drenched in fresh olive oil. After the long lunch the students went to the mill to see the olives get sliced and diced and pressed into that most delicious of all Umbrian vices, extra-virgin olive oil. Che bello!