Tuscany is well known all over the world for its immense artistic heritage and excellent local products. One of its foremost products is extra-virgin olive oil, a universal and indisputable paragon of quality. Thanks to the continual evolution and progress in cultivation techniques, especially in the twentieth century, olive growing has become of great economic and social importance in almost every area of the region despite localized differences in climate and cultivation. The province of Florence produces more olive oil than any other area of Tuscany, not so much for the amount of land dedicated to olive cultivation where is comes second to the province of Arezzo, but for the quantity of olives harvested and the amount of oil produced due to the greater concentration of trees planted.
In addition to the hills of Florence, the olive groves are found in three large homogeneous areas: Montalbano in the east towards the province of Pistoia, Chianti to the south of Florence with olive groves alternating with vineyards and on the slopes of Pratomagno which, again southwards, borders on the province of Arezzo. Olive cultivation, however, is much more composite: the immediate city outskirts to the east give way to an area as far as Rufina in the north and along the Arno river as far as Vallombrosa. The oil produced in these areas, each with their own quite distinctive characteristics, is light and fruity with a marked notes reminiscent of artichoke, mown hay and medicinal herbs. There are many important oil-producing towns in this area including Bagno a Ripoli with its olive-growing excellence and its many activities linked to it.
Pontassieve and the area by Rufina are also important oil producing areas where oil from the trees planted higher up is more refined than from the trees down in the valley. The area of Florence also includes the part that stretches from Pelago, south of Rufina, to Reggello, bordering on the province of Arezzo. This area is perhaps one of the most interesting for its climactic conditions, the nature of the land and its south- western exposure.To the south of Florence, we come to the foothills of the higher, more varied area of Chianti where the oil has a particularly vigorous fragrance. Here, too, there are many towns where the culture of oil runs parallel with that of wine: Scandicci, Impruneta, San Casciano Val di Pesa, Mercatale and Barberino Val d'Elsa to mention just a few. The area of Chianti Classico stretches south east from here over the provinces of both Florence and Siena where the main town is Greve in Chianti.
To the west, towards Empoli, the most important areas are Empoli, Montespertoli and Certaldo. On the other side of the river, to the north you come to the two sides of Montalbano, with Vinci to the west and Carmignano (which is near Prato) to the east and coming full circle clockwise back to Florence we reach the slopes above Prato up to Sesto Fiorentino and Fiesole. The province of Florence counts more than 5 million olive trees with an average yearly production of some 6,600,000 kilos of oil produced in over 90 presses. The main varieties of olive trees in the area of Florence are Frantoio, Moraiolo, Leccino and Pendolino, with the latter used especially for pollinating.