Gigi Benza and his mother Claretta make the BuonOlio EV Olive Oil. It is not just Buono; it is Buonissimo!!! How do we find new producers, friends ask. It varies; in this case, a few years ago, we wanted to include a Ligurian Oil, in our most discriminating “carta degli olii italiani” and we asked our good friend Fred Plotkin. He is the true expert of everything Italian and, in particular, everything Ligurian, because he spends much of his time in this magnificent region. He said: I LOVE frantoio Benza. So, here I go. In the spring of 2007, after a few conversations on the telephone, I landed in the small airport in Albenga, near Imperia, to meet the Benza family and taste the olive oil on the spot. Due diligence was completed with an “exceptional” on all counts. But Gustiamo is very slow and we did not start importing BuonOlio until Stefano joined us, in the Summer of 2009. He would have not worked with Gustiamo if we did not have the best EV Olive Oil from Liguria, his region. Stefano also went to see Gigi and Claretta and gave his final blessing to Gustiamo’s partnership with BuonOlio. BuonOlio EV Olive Oil is 100% from taggiasca olives and is DOP Riviera dei Fiori, Gigi has all the certifications, but he, as with many other Gustiamo producers, is reluctant to use them and does not put the “DOP” label on the bottles. Who cares?
Liguria is famous for its olive oil: weather, vicinity to the sea, and calcareous soil made it perfect to grow the local Taggiasca olive trees. But the olive groves are perched on terraced hills, very difficult to cultivate with modern machinery, olives must be picked by hand and the groves are progressively being abandoned by their original farmers, giving space to fires and a desolate landscape. Gigi is a passionate young man with a big heart, hopes, and a clear vision for his future: he wants to do good for his land and his beautiful region! A few years ago, he started to buy abandoned tree groves, reclaiming the landscape to its original magnificence. He has now 4,000 trees. We wish him good luck and more BuonOlio for Gustiamo and our friends in the future!!!