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Libertinia – Lidia, Her Family Traditions and Organic Olive Oil Production

December 17, 2012

Pictures of Libertinia taken by Lidia over the years……….

3 lidia etna cloudcollina ulivi lidia libertinia seen fm

colori in libertinia

quasi svizzera

Driving towards the belly button of Sicily, Enna, which stands perched upon a hill at 1,000 meters above sea level, looking out at the many hills dotting the area all around it, one reaches Libertinia. The roads one travels to reach Libertinia are rugged, many unpaved, and one realizes the remoteness of this area and the strong will of those who still live and/or work here. This is a beautiful drive offering views of hills, pastures and open fields. The day I drove this road, there was cattle grazing on the fields surrounding the road I drove and some had even ventured onto the road making me pay special attention to avoid any direct encounter! I was driving those roads as I was on my way to meet Lidia Tusa. Lidia runs an olive oil producing business, Mandrerosse, with her uncle Alessandro, a business which was started almost one century ago by grandfather, Sebastiano Tusa. The name, Mandrerosse, comes from an old Sicilian term “mannera”, which was the name for the fence built to contain the animals mannera got its name from the materials used to build the fence which were local red stones.

entrance baglio

Nonno Sebastiano e i suoi fratelli 1900 ca005

Grandfather Sebastiano and his brothers

Grandfather Sebastiano started working on this land together with ten other people in the 1920’s, and at that time, they leased the land from its then owner, a senator, Senator Pasquale Libertini (thus the name of this location, Libertinia). Back then the estate encompassed 10,000 hectares and consisted of three feiffs. Over the many years that have gone by since the 1920’a lot has changed. Today the family business is an organic olive oil production business run on a small portion of the original estate. During my visit, Lidia’s Uncle Alessandro went over the rich history of the family and its connection to this land. It is obvious that there is pride in the recollection of the many years of Tusa family tradition and their strong ties to Libertinia.

Today, Lidia and her Uncle Alessandro manage the olive groves and olive oil production. They own Societa’ Agricola Mandrerosse and produce about 5,000 liters of olive oil a year. Their business has been an organic olive oil producing facility since 1997. As we sat at the kitchen table and discussed the many aspects both of the business and olive oil production, one could sense the hard work that has gone into keeping a family business alive. There have been many challenges and historical changes but one thing remains and that is to produce the best quality olive oil.
As Uncle Alessandro explained to me the olive oil production, he specified the steps that are taken to ensure quality control of the product, from initial picking, transporting to olive press facility, packing and transportation of the oil to its final destination. The olive oil is sold in some cities in the north of Italy and exported to some European countries.
I heard a lot of technical information during my visit but would like to share three important elements regarding precautions any olive oil consumer should take in order to ensure that their olive oil does not go bad. First, in order to maintain olive oil at its best condition, one must not expose it to light; next, one must never allow the olive oil to come in contact with oxygen in the air, and finally the ideal temperature for conservation should range between 8 and 18 degrees centigrade.
After the enlightening conversation with Uncle Alessandro, with interesting comments added by Lidia’s mother , Lidia and I took a ride through the town of Libertinia adjacent to the rural family property. Lidia explained how, in the 1920’s, a village had been built adjacent to the Tusa family property. The purpose of the village was to create a community where people would live closely and each home built was allotted a piece of land not far from the home which they could farm. Unfortunately, this project did not meet its initial purpose and many of the residents of the Libertinia village emigrated to mainland Italy. A lot has changed over the years here, but the beauty of the land still remains.

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