The olive tree is native to tropical Africa, but over the course of millions of years, due to geological events (the increase in altitude of the Central African mountain range) and climate change (desertification of the Sahara) has moved towards colder areas and has adapted to the environment of the southern and eastern belt of the Mediterranean Sea, from Anatolia to the Caucasian Range: it has only recently been found in Europe (about 10-12000 years ago). Currently olive trees are grown in regions that extend between latitude 30 and 45 degrees north.
It is a rustic species, with plants able to grow in difficult conditions, adapting to calcareous, poor, even rocky and dry soils, and surviving in temperatures ranging from -10 to +50 ° C.
The ideal climate for the cultivated olive tree is characterized by a warm and sunny summer and a cold and rainy winter, but where the temperatures never drop below -10, -11 ° C (this has proven lethal to the olive tree’s cells).
The rain (that varies depending on the area from 200 to 1200 mm / year) must be concentrated in the autumn-winter period; since the olive is an anemophilous species, areas with high humidity levels during the flowering period (late spring) are not suitable.
In the past, due to its adaptability and hardiness, the olive tree was grown in outlying areas, where cultivation practices were at a minimum, sometimes only enough to allow its harvesting. Nowadays, it is among the hardest plants to cultivate as, in addition to the appropriate environmental conditions and continuous care, careful human intervention is needed in order to regularly produce high quantities of produce as well as to obtain the set of characteristics that make an extra virgin olive oil a valuable, tasty, fragrant and healthy product.