In Basilicata olive growing is without doubt an historical tradition, but also a practice that has greatly influenced the economy and gastronomy of the region. The olive has been cultivated here since the times of Magna Graecia and the oil derived from the pressing of Lucanian olives has always been of the best quality. Not much is sold outside the region since it is primarily produced for home consumption. The particular mineralogical composition of the land confers a unique, organoleptic characteristic to the oil. And while the species of olive tree selected for cultivation does not have any particularly exceptional yield, it does produce the best quality of oil. There are three areas of production: Vulture, Bassa Val d'Agri and Bassa Collina Materana. The most important oil-producing centres in Vulture are: Melfi, Rionero in Vulture, Barile, Rapolla, Acerenza, Lavello and Venosa. The most widespread quality of olive tree is the ‘ogliarola’, also known as ‘rapollese’ or ‘nostrale’. It bears fruit on land of volcanic origin. In the bassa collina Materana, the qualitatively highest zones of production are: Ferrandina, Grassano, Grottole, Salandra, Montescaglioso and Bernalda. In this territory, olive trees cover more than 80% of the cultivated land. The most commonly used variety is the ‘maiatica di Ferrandina’, which produces an optimum oil, as well as olives for the table. The oven-dried olives of Ferrandina are a gastronomic specialty. The other area of productions that of Bassa Val d'Agri in the communities of Aliano, S. Arcangelo, Roccanova and Missanello. The ‘maiatica’ of Ferrandina is cultivated here, as well. In Basilicata the olive mills where the olives are pressed are for the most part very modernly equipped. Contrary to traditional mills, they guarantee maximum yield and, most importantly, olive oil of the highest quality. Olive oil has always been the essential component of regional cooking in Basilicata. This is why the producers have acquired such expertise in the selection of the olives and their preparation and is a guarantee of flavour and quality. Naturally, we are talking about extra-virgin olive oil, filtered or not, obtained from a combination of the first ‘cold’ pressing and a mechanical pressing, and virgin olive oil obtained from mechanical pressing alone. Finally, it is worth remembering that the highest quality olive oil is obtained from the first harvest in November and December. In nearly every case, the restaurants in the region use the locally-produced oils, which confer a characteristic flavour to the dishes. The oils can be purchased directly at the oil mills along with olives for the table, which are, however, more easily found in the local shops.