Oil and honey at the Parco archeologico del Colosseo. Culture through the development of the earth’s resources

29 December 2019

Not just archaeology: the Parco del Colosseo is also a place for health and wellness—states of being that come not only though contact with one’s natural surroundings but also through the enjoyment of locally cultivated and produced products.

 

With this goal in mind, the PArCo has gone forward with a series of projects in the past few months aimed at developing and promoting the natural heritage of the Palatine Hill through local food culture.

Palatinum: presenting the extra virgin olive oil produced from the olive trees that grow on the Palatine, sharing the land with the site’s millennia-long history. “The project, fruit of a collaboration with Coldiretti Lazio and OP Latium, was created to celebrate the role that agriculture played in the ancient world and which was at the basis of the Romans’ material and ethical wealth”, says Alfonsina Russo, Director of the Parco archeologico del Colosseo, “The olive harvest adds to the charm of our landscape here, taking advantage of the roughly 200 olive trees present throughout the PArCo. Our project also has the noble intention of preventing these resources from going to waste, using them to create products of agricultural and cultural quality through an educational program open to the public concerning oil production, olive harvest techniques and the historical evolution of olive cultivation”, concludes Alfonsina Russo.

Following the same principle, the idea to produce honey was also met with great enthusiasm. Thanks to the GRABees project, promoted by the Associazione di Promozione Sociale Comitato Mura Latine, an association which supports urban apiculture, production has begun on Ambrosia del Palatino. The Palatine honey’s beehives are located along the southern slopes of the hill, rich in the ancient Mediterranean vegetation described so glowingly by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia.

From the ancient texts of such great writers on the agrarian arts as Cato, Virgil and Columella, modern readers can understand the extremely important role played by honey, to which the ancients attributed a sacred value and divine origins. An indispensable element of Roman cuisine, it was the first among ancient sweeteners and above all an important preservative.

With this first season of production, the PArCo has bottled 120 liters of olive oil and 14 kg of honey, with labels designed by Roman illustrator and cartoonist LRNZ Lorenzo Ceccotti, who drew inspiration from an ancient drawing of a mosaic floor in the House of the Griffons on the Palatine.