WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU...
PART ONE: THE ESSENTIALS - what you need.
AN OLIVE GROVE
Sounds simple, but this may turn out to be your first stumbling stone. In fact, not many of us happen to have an olive tree, let alone a whole grove in our backyard. True I do, but it didn't come for free. Only the making of two children with an Italian gained me life-time access to a stubborn Tuscan family and their respective olive grove. But what a grove!
What are you prepared to do for yours?
WORKING UTENSILS: Once that olive grove is settled you'll need the proper tools.
1 - NETS
2 - LADDERS
The higher the better. But make sure you are still able to lift them up. It does help when you move from tree to tree.
3 - CATS
Similar to truffle dogs, they are great at finding the ripest olives.
No, obviously not. Cats are utterly useless when it comes to olive picking. Also, olives don't have to be all that ripe to be picked. When it comes to extra virgin olive oil, it's the earlier the better. At least that's how it's done in Tuscany, to produce the typical green oil with its very low acidity.
A few comb-like tools are of help to work your way through those olive-laden twigs. And investing in a good pair of working gloves is sound advice for people who are more accustomed to stroking cats or keyboards than trees.
4 - A LORRY
Or how in the world are those olives supposed to get to the olive press?
AND HERE, THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT INGREDIENT FOR A SUCCESSFUL HARVEST
MY VERY OWN TUSCAN FATHER-IN-LAW. No better guide to get you through that olive tree jungle!
Make sure yours is as patient and understanding as mine. It can take a while to get the hang of that ladder technique.
Sound positioning is important. You don't want the ladder to slip or fall through the tree with you hanging on to it. Doesn't sound too difficult? Say, have you ever visited an Italian emergency ward during olive picking season?
PART 2: ARRIVE PREPARED - Physically and mentally.
1 - KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Oh dear, that basket does look far away - am I getting too far up?
2 - PERSEVERANCE
The view up on that ladder is beautiful, isn't it? Just remember that you'll be standing on that ladder till sunset - so shall we get a move on?
10 - LAST BUT NOT LEAST: RESPECT
Know the hierarchy in the olive grove and don't fuss with the boss.
Still sure you want to give it a try? Before you buy an entire olive grove or marry somebody just because of their access to one, consider an olive picking holiday or volunteer picking on an organic farm as a WOOFER.
In case I managed to discourage you - there is still the option of adopting an olive tree. It's simple, no legal implications (not even in Italy!) and you don't even have to fly out, as the oil from the adopted tree will be delivered to your door. Neither will you have to put up with being bossed around by a Tuscan cat. For olive tree adopting via one of Montalcino's top Brunello di Montalcino producers, check out Il Palazzone's Club 100 program.