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Fall 2017

Last night rain arrived, the first non-tempestuous rain in six months. Just to hear it drumming on the windows was a reassuring sound, balm after glorious autumnal days which have left the Italian countryside on the brink of desertification. Some doubt climate change; politics aside, they are wrong. Listening in Copenhagen last weekend to fellow archaeologists working in sub-Saharan Africa, the warming of our planet is undeniable. The implications are terrifying in Africa, and Italy can hardly be sanguine about it.

Here, in my house in Umbria, we harvested the olives. All around until this morning’s rain was the sound of motorised combs on long poles shaking out the olives onto the green nets below. There are far fewer this year, half as many as last year. Everyone laments. The long hot summer has taken its toll. Our oil is nonetheless liquid gold, viscous and sharp on the tongue. Quite unimaginable unless you’ve had it fresh and thick on toasted bread.

Italy desperately needs more rain to sustain its landscape. The menace of a warming planet will not only damage future production of its canonical oil, but kill trees and indeed the very iconic character of Italy’s countryside.

Only half as much oil this year

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