Harvesting olive trees: join the olive harvest in Sicily!
Harvesting olives by hand

Harvesting olive trees in Sicily is a perfect idea! Today you will discover how to pick olives in Sicily and how to experience an exciting olive harvest in Italy, a journey between nature and art!


When the olive harvesting takes place? Harvesting olives means taking part in a real country festival, being in contact with nature and learning its rhythms. In Italy there are many places where you can join the olive tree harvest with the producer, but it is among the Sicilian olive trees that a day of olive picking can become a truly unforgettable experience!

Sicily is one of the Italian regions that offers many high quality foods, including Sicilian olives. A land rich in colours, flavours and aromas: it boasts a very long history regarding the olive harvest in Italy!

When are olives harvested in Sicily? The olive harvest season in Sicily varies from year to year, but as a general rule we can say that the most favourable period for harvesting olives each year is the week from the beginning of October.


🧳 Want to learn about Sicilian olive oil? Check out all our experiences!


Let’s harvest olive trees in Sicily!

For all Italian olive oil lovers, olive harvest time is definitely the best time to visit the producers. Autumn is the season when the olives ripen and the producers begin the olive harvest in Italy. During this particular time of year, visitors can admire the beautiful Sicilian olive trees and experience this joy by learning how to harvest olives in Sicily in the field.

The olive harvest is long, complex and ends when the olive oil is produced. Olive harvesters know well that choosing the right time to harvest olives allows you to finally taste an extra virgin olive oil with perfect characteristics in terms of yield and quality.

In Sicily the olive varieties are numerous: there are currently more than 25 cultivars. However, it is possible to identify predominant cultivars, minor cultivars and others still at risk of extinction. But when are olives harvested in Sicily? Let’s discover where we can go harvesting olives in this wonderful region of Italy.


Olive harvest in Sicily


Olive varieties

Among the predominant cultivars, the Biancolilla stands out. It is a native olive variety from which medium bodied Sicilian extra virgin olive oil is produced. Cerasuola is one of the most common olive varieties in the area. These olives are used to produce a medium-high bodied extra virgin olive oil. The Moresca is another predominant olive variety from which a sweet, light and fruity oil is obtained.

Nocellara del Belice is a cultivar widespread in the area of Trapani, Agrigento and Palermo. Ideal to be eaten as whole olive, Nocellara Etnea is one of the olive varieties that best resists unfavourable weather conditions. Present in inland Sicily, it offers a fruity and slightly spicy olive oil.

Other predominant cultivars are the Ogliarola Messinese, Santagatese and Tonda Iblea, which is typical of the Iblei mountains area, with a bitter and spicy medium-high bodied taste.

Among the minor cultivars, we can mention Brandofino, from which a slightly spicy oil is produced, Calatina, Giaraffa, Minuta and Verdello. A small hint to the varieties that are at risk of extinction like Cavalieri, which produces an excellent Sicilian extra virgin olive oil, Erbano whose olive oil is very pleasant to taste and smell, Lumiaru and Vaddarica.


How to harvest olives in Sicily

The olive harvest in Italy is a long and critical process: olive farming is influenced by many factors that may change the quality of extra virgin olive oil as well as damage olive trees. But how to harvest olives in Sicily?


where are olive grown


Hand harvesting, called “brucatura”, is the most traditional way of picking olives and takes place by removing the fruit from the branches of the tree. Harvesting olives by hand makes it possible to have an olive oil with a very low free acidity, therefore it can be called extra virgin olive oil. The olives, carefully selected by the olive harvester, after being hand-picked are pressed after a maximum of 12 hours. The olive oil mill is very important to obtain a high quality product. For the olives harvesting is a hard work, but with an extraordinary result!

If olives are cold pressed, this method is certainly the one that guarantees a high-quality extra virgin olive oil since the processing temperature never exceeds 27 ° C. However, the yield can also be quite low, even from large olive trees.

It should be noted that the olives can also be harvested by mechanical means, but this involves greater stress for the tree and is not recommended for the production of quality extra virgin olive oil.

Once you understand when to pick olives and how travellers can participate in the olive harvest, all that’s left to do is plan a trip to Sicily to take part in this memorable activity!

Certainly, the most interesting places in Sicily to have an olive harvest experience are the provinces of Agrigento and Ragusa, where the main cultivars are grown – plus other minor and neglected varieties.


Immerse yourself in Sicilian nature and art

Sicily is a land that offers not only magnificent high-quality ingredients, but also many historical sites and artistic beauties throughout its territory.


1. Let’s go harvesting olive trees in Agrigento!

Harvesting olives in Agrigento not only provides a special experience and allows you to enjoy nature at the right time of year for the olive harvest, but it also manages to combine a visit to important archaeological sites such as the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento.

Known throughout the world, this area allows a just connection between nature, art, history and relaxation. The guided tours allow visitors to learn about Sicilian archeology. Not only will you admire ancient ruins but also a territory where orchards, citrus and Sicilian olive trees stand out and dominate the landscape.


olive harvester in Sicilian monuments


2. The olive harvest in Ragusa

On the other hand, the province of Ragusa is known for enclosing within it very different areas of cultivation, that offer delicious foods and ingredients. In this place, you will experience an unforgettable olive harvest experience!

In addition, visitors can admire the authentic Sicilian baroque style. This style is characterised by being whimsical and rich in decorative elements.

In particular, Ragusa, where this style was born and flourished, is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Cathedral, the churches as well as the well-known palaces charm and let tourists enjoy the Sicilian atmosphere.


Picking olives The cathedral of Ragusa Ibla at night


Going into detail, Ragusa Ibla is a place not to be missed, that perfectly mixes historical and artistic treasures with a nature rich in plants, as well as large olive trees destined for the olive harvest and Sicilian olive oil production.

Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy unique experiences in Sicily during the olive harvest season, such as food and wine experiences to deepen your knowledge of this precious typical Sicilian food. Explore some of the most wonderful cities in the world and harvest olive trees, like a great Italian olive harvester.

Now that you know everything about the olive harvest in Italy, read also the article about Cooking Oils: what are Healthy Cooking Oils?


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