The Oliena municipality occupies an area of 16,600 hectares in Central-Eastern Sardinia. The broad Cedrino valley, extending from the foothills of Mount Ortobene, in Nuoro province, to the calcareous base of the long and rocky Supramonte ridge, is characterised by low undulating hills of solidified granitic sandstone and rugged uplands of large granite outcrops.
Mount Manasudda, 534 metres high, and the 336-metre Biriai Pass, lie in the middle of the Cedrino river valley. The river rises at the base of the Supramonte ridge in Orgosolo province and crosses the Oliena area from West to East. Numerous streams flow into it on both sides, through ravines of various depths carved into the surrounding hills.
The area is mainly planted with olive trees, almond trees and vineyards, with some pastureland. There are currently around 3,500 hectares of olive yards within the municipality, largely intermingled with pastures and, often, with other crops. The land around Oliena is divided into small plots enclosed by dry stone walls, hedges and fences to indicate private ownership.
The wild olive has been the commonest hillside plant in much of Sardinia since prehistoric times, and grows freely around Oliena. For centuries the people of Oliena have grafted olive cuttings onto these plants, cultivating them with passion. Because of their association with the landscape, high environmental value is attached to traditional olive trees.
…on the slopes of Mount Corrasi, the limestone giant rising to over 1,400 metres, you’ll find narrow passageways, aromas of amazing food, wine and olive oil of exceptional quality: rewarding a visit at any time of the year
The area contains numerous Nuragic monuments, the Graves of Giants, domus de janas tombs, churches, ancient country tracks and kilometres of dry stone walls. Although local Nuragic remains have revealed no signs of olive processing, the presence of very old trees scattered throughout the area suggests that olive cultivation was long practised in bygone days.
The Jesuits arrived in Oliena in the mid-1600s, giving a strong impulse to olive cultivation with ordered plantations and new pruning technologies, and installing an olive-press. The commonest olive varieties are the Nera di Oliena, the Bosana and, to a lesser extent, the Cariasina and the Majorchina, the latter introduced from the island of Majorca. The microclimate of the Nuoro/Orgosolo region produces high quality oil that promotes good health and appeals to the senses.