The town and province of Sondrio is in the Valtellina area of Lombardy. Sondrio is a mountain town in the extreme north of Italy. It is noted as a city where man demonstrated his ingenuity in terracing the harsh land that today produces its celebrated vineyards. The wines (Sassella and Gremella, most notably) are one of the principal resources of the region, together with tourism, particularly in winter.
But climate changes and more and more mild temperatures are quickly changing the life in this valley. 2014 was the warmest year since 1880, when these measures began, with 1.45 degrees celsius above average. The rise in the column of mercury made scaling the Alps favorable for olive trees.
In Sondrio, above the 46th line of latitude, the queen of cultivation around the Mediterranean, the olive tree, which is usually done along very sunny slopes, has exploded. The cultivation—today there are about 10 thousand plants—in no time it is estimated that there will be an area of 30,000 square meters. The number of farmers who are beginning to grow olive trees is growing.
Carlo Baruffi is a Valtellese entrepreneur of 71 years. Twelve years ago, almost as a joke, he dedicated part of his terraced land, 564 meters above sea level, to plants typically of the Mediterranean. “I began with about 50 specimens and now I produce olive oil “Made in Valtellina” for friends and relatives who help me in the harvest. It is passion, more than work,” given that the economic return is still modest. A cultivation that redefines the landscape broadens the local produce offerings to include experimentation with red potatoes, blueberries and saffron.
This story, reported in Corriere della sera, reminds us that as the land and conditions change, man must adapt to these changes.