Porziola Farm

Let me introduce myself: I am Claudio Manara, a real estate broker since 1981, when I chose to follow in my father’s footsteps, footsteps that my daughter Ilaria has also chosen to follow. For several years I was not directly involved in the management of the land, which was rented out and cultivated with cereals and hay, but the idea of planting a type of crop that could involve me personally and at the same time be suitable for the type of land I owned was finding more and more space within me. The land is part of a small plateau that overlooks the Reno river and the Porziola lakes (a fish and environmental oasis).

Claudio Manara
The Manara family

The history of the Porziola Farm

I inherited from my parents, both of whom died prematurely, a small farm in Sasso Marconi called “Porziola” which was about seven hectares in size and worked for five. My parents were farmers in Romagna and moved to Sasso Marconi in 1954, where they first became traders (butchers and bartenders), then my father became a livestock broker and later a real estate broker; but origins don’t betray and that’s why they decided to buy this farm in 1975.

The history of the cultivation of our olive trees

In 2008, what I can now call ‘my adventure’ began when I had the opportunity to meet, thanks to an article published in the ‘Resto del Carlino’ newspaper, an ARPO (Regional Olive Producers Association) technician. I immediately talked to Maurizio, a lifelong friend, and at the age of 50 we decided that it is never too late to make a new start. So we prepared the soil according to the directions we had been given, ripping and ploughing, and planted the first 240 small seedlings, grown in polyconic pots, in the spring of 2009, on about 1 hectare of land.

In the last few years we have planted all the working fields and today we have about 1,400 plants that we grow with great passion. Given that in Italy we grow about 550 types of plants, called “cultivars”, the ARPO advised us to plant some qualities of olive trees that are more resistant to the cold, such as the Nostrana di Brisighella from which we obtain one of the finest oils of the region, the Ghiacciola, the Leccino, the Morcone, the Leccio del Corno and some qualities born from patents such as the Don Carlo and the I-79.

In recent years, the CNR in Bologna has reproduced some native varieties, taking small branches from the centuries-old plants that have survived in our territory, the so-called ‘scions’, and rooting them to produce new seedlings. This resulted in the varieties called Farneto, Montelocco, Montecapra, Capolga and Orfana, localities of our hills, which were planted by us in 2018. Today we can proudly count our plants among those defined as “ biological” and this is only one of the characteristics that make our oil special.

Our territory

Sasso Marconi: a town situated about 15 km south of Bologna, in the first hilly area of the Bolognese Apennines. Formerly called PRADURO E SASSO and since 1938 called Sasso Marconi. “Sasso” (stone), from Sasso della Glosina, a cliff of the Pliocene Contrafforte that dominates the town and the confluence of the Setta and Reno rivers; “Marconi” in honour of Guglielmo Marconi (from these hills the scientist carried out the first experiments that led him to the invention of the wireless telegraph, the ancestor of all modern communications) whose remains rest in our town.

Guglielmo Marconi
“Sasso della Glosina”, in Sasso Marconi

In the so-called “Marconian” hills and, in general, in all the Bolognese hills, there are numerous testimonies of olive cultivation: a leaf print found, together with numerous other fossils, in the Pliocene sands of Mongardino has led researchers to believe that olive cultivation was practised in the Bolognese territory in Roman times.
There is more consistent and reliable evidence of olive growing in the Middle Ages: in a notarial deed dated 6 March 776, in which Duke Giovanni da Persiceto transferred the ownership of some lands ‘in pago Montebelio’ (Monteveglio) to the monastery of Nonantola, it is written that this area was ‘oliveto circumdato’ (surrounded by olive trees).

Finally, in the 16th century, there is evidence of substantial olive cultivation in the Bolognese hills, which was severely hampered by adverse climatic conditions since the beginning of the 18th century. A recent study shows that the period between 1675 and 1715 was characterised by intense and persistent frosts which caused enormous damage to olive-growing, leading to the almost total disappearance of this tree crop. In the areas where olive trees were grown, however, there are still some centuries-old trees that are particularly resistant and have survived the frosts of the past centuries.

More recently, since around 1990, the Bolognese territory has seen a progressive increase in the areas cultivated with olive trees, thanks to climate changes that are now favourable.

It is in this scenario that our farm called “Porziola” is located.