For centuries, olive growing has played a major role in the central regions of Italy, with hectares of olive groves surrounding hill towns and hamlets as part of a strong deep-rooted farming tradition. With reference to Lazio and Abruzzo, this article makes use of historical documentation, geographical surveys and in-depth interviews with professionals and experts, in order to provide evidence of how olive growing, once of the mixed type, now with specialized cultivations, has somehow challenged the structural features of traditional landscapes. In some cases, this ancient farming tradition has been awarded the ‘Protected Designation of Origin Brand’ according to strict technical production policies. Besides intensive crops, today also practiced on flat ground, for some years now, olive trees have been cultivated by ‘hobby farmers’. This is frequent in fringe areas, threatened by urban sprawl, within small plots belonging to detached family homes conferring a sense of rural ‘revival’. Whether all these diverse settlement patterns are socially and economically sustainable is debatable. Definitely, such persistence in land use, which now and again can be read even as a material survival of certain tree specimens, allows for olive farming as an enduring cultural practice in the face of increasing urbanization.
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