Agriculture was considered the activity most morally befitting of the Roman citizen. It was seen as an expression of the values of one’s ancestors and the prosperity of the nation. A particularly important part of Roman agricultural activities was the cultivation of olives and grapes.
Ancient sources, including the encyclopedic Naturalis Historia by Pliny the Elder, inform us that three plants seen as symbolic of Roman culture grew in the Roman Forum piazza: Ficus, Olea et Vitis. In modern times, plants of the same species are maintained in the same spot as a tribute to the memory of their ancient forebears.
The Parco archeologico del Colosseo is home to 189 olive trees planted across various historical periods, from the centuries-old stalwarts near the Arch of Titus to the more recently planted youngsters found elsewhere. All of these trees fit seamlessly into the PArCo landscape, which has been characterized since Antiquity by the presence of olive trees.
This important legacy has prompted the PArCo to promote a project that we see primarily as an expression of environmental ethics, in addition to its obvious cultural, historical and naturalistic value. By harvesting the fruit of the PArCo olive trees, we firstly prevent the “waste” of this precious resource while also resolving the cleaning and safety issues created by the fallen olives that would otherwise litter the paths throughout our archaeological sites. This virtuous recovery has led to the production of our extra virgin (EVOO) Palatine olive oil, the fruit of trees which have never been treated with chemical pesticides.