Olives are harvested for the first time in years at Azienda Agricola Vergari on October 21, 2021 in the countryside of Supersano, Italy. Like almost all olive growers in the Salento peninsula, an area known for its olive oil and its ancient olive groves, Vergari lost most of its olive trees to Xylella fastidiosa, a plant bacteria from Central America that over the past ten years has affected millions of trees, turning an entire province into a cemetery of dead tree trunks.
With Gustavo Amedeo Cavalera, in Casarano. Salento(1 minute)
Uprooting the remains of dead olive trees in the countryside of Ugento.
The Paduli used to be a dense forest of oak trees, the Belvedere wood, which were cut down in the 19th century to make room for olive trees. Because of its fertile soil and abundance of water, over the years the Paduli became a sort of “farmed forest” that was supposed to be especially beautiful and magical.
Its olive trees ravaged by the Xylella pandemic and its fields parched by drought, Salento is literally a tinderbox. Small fires break out all the time, and where once you would have seen crowds of people working frantically to save their family’s trees, today you see absolutely nothing, as trunks that stood for centuries burn and crumble into ashes, and nobody cares.