Sunday, January 21, 2018


The Ghosts of Italy’s Adopt An Olive Tree
Symbol of Peace & Abundance

The Ghosts of Italy's #AdoptAnOliveTree initiative offers anyone; from book-readers of #GhostsofItaly, friends, and friends who are family, a special opportunity to share in and support an organic, wild-cultivated sustainable olive grove in Alta Irpinia, Campania, Southern Italy. It's a pay it forward story; tramandare is Italian for handing down something of the family. Here's a brief story about how it all came about with a teaser scene from book two! STILL LIFE WITH SAINTS

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It was October 2006. I had just started my blog L’Americana with this prescient post:

I was in the little paese on the hill for Christmas. For Italians the holiday is all about the presepe - and not about how many shopping days left. Thankfully. The weather was cold and wintry though sadly it did not snow on the hill once. I’m a big believer in snow at Christmas, even so my Calitri experience was all that I had hoped for, with fresh Christmas trees and little tiny lights throughout the town, wild mistletoe to hang over the door (collected together in the woods with my own wild man Peppino) the aroma of homemade breads and cakes in ovens nearby, and a surprise gift from zia Maria ~ the biggest rosary I have ever seen!

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Ten years of blogging and a published book later, at zia Maria’s family table for Christmas 2016, she spoke these words to me in Italian ~

‘You’re welcome to the olive trees in San Benedetto.’ The historic zona olivicola (olive-growing area) on Calitri’s legendary Centro Storico hillside, just below This Morning’s Balcony View.
Senza interessi.’
I sat silent at first, regarding her. Then she asked if I’d understood what she said. After several years living in the town, I’d learned a few of the deeper cultural sayings, and what they meant.
I nodded my head.
Moments later her daughter Anna reconfirmed if I had understood what her mother had just offered me. I turned to her then, as zia Maria’s words slowly sunk further in.
‘They’re the olive trees in the circle of land below my balcony,’ I said as much to myself as to Anna, zia Maria, and those still sitting around the table.
Tramandare. The word for handing down something of the family. Zia Maria, then, without having read the book, understood the very spirit of The Ghosts of Italy; its theme, its magic, and me.


There are 25 organic and wild-cultivated ‘Carnevale’ olive trees in the circle grove and a dozen more near the crest of the hill covered in yellow broom. Zia Maria and her husband Vincenzo hadn’t tended the trees for at least the last three seasons; they weren’t getting any younger, one year had been too lean, so they had let the harvest go. After a year of fielding resistance from urban parenti both near and far, some encouragement from local cittadini contadini, ‘Wait for the yield to return’, and Peppino, this year I partnered with a local, grassroots non-profit chapter of the greater Irpinia Associazione Olivicoltori ~ The Olive Guys ~ experts in the caring and pruning of millenial and younger olive groves and harvesting their oftimes abandoned trees. ‘Carnevale’ is a monovarietal fruit, awarded DOP status in Calitri, Alta Irpinia. This means, the trees in the historic San Benedetto zone, are a designated and protected varietal of olive exclusive to Calitri. Wild harvested and fresh pressed, the small black Carnevale produce a mild yet luxuriously rich and complex fruity oil.

Wouldn’t you love some on your table?

Adopt an Olive Tree from The Ghosts of Italy Initiative Spring 2018.

Grazie dal zia Maria