Philosophy and Olive picking in The Cilento
Philosophy and the olive industry have a curious historical relationship going back at least as far as Thales of Miletus.
Complimentary sticks, nets and a profound philosophical problem to think about while beating the branches are provided free (yes, FREE) by the Parmenideum (details below).
The stuff of Philosophers
From around late November to end of December olives are ready for harvesting here in southern Italy. Usually the weather is still mild, as winter does not really set in till end of January and beginning of February.
Yet even if the odd day of rain or cold graces the proceedings, and as a result one has to spend lengthy hours in front of the camino, (an open fireplace) sipping wine and toasting bread whilst uttering an occasional profundity, it probably all adds to the sense of achievement and reward after a good days healthy work in, on, under and around the olive trees.
After the olives are collected they are pressed or dried or pickled according to which kind of olive. On occasion, you can also have the pleasure of pressing your own olives into oil using local cold presses, and take some of the products of your hard labour back home.
Pressing olives into oil is truly a remarkable process, because all you see are green olives to start with and after a few minutes out comes the oil.
Olive picking, apart from being an ancient form of obtaining a crucial resource as well as making a living selling it, is probably also the most philosophical form of work second to actually being a philosopher. Almost all of the great philosophers of antiquity, starting probably with Thales, would have lived among, and would have eaten from, olive trees. In fact, Thales himself even made a business out if it. Moreover, practically anyone can pick olives, even whilst thinking about some obscure philosophical problem. All you need is a stick and a net - and something interesting to think about.
Olive picking in Cilento is highly recommended if you need a break away from noise, pollution, crowding, information overload and running around frenetically, but also want to keep fit as well. And if you don't bring your mobile, the only calls you'll receive will be for the mid morning bread and cheese break, after which will be the call to a sumptuous, well disserved lunch.