The Taggiasca olive thrives in Liguria's mild, temperate seaside climate and calcium-rich soil. Still, olive oil production here is far from easy. Groves are perched on terraced hills inaccessible to modern harvest equipment, so the olives must be picked by hand. Many farmers have abandoned their groves, leaving the landscape in decline and vulnerable to brush fires.
The Benza family has been making extra virgin olive oil in the Ligurian Riviera since the 19th century. "My parents taught me that good oil comes from a highly scrupulous production process," explains Gigi Benza. "But above all, it comes from quality olives - that's why I personally look after them from the time the plant flowers until the harvest."