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Viva Verde! Tech and Tradition Can Coexist in Italy

July 08, 2013

It’s been a busy week for us here in Le Marche, Italy.  After our announcement of Casal Cristiana Extra Virgin Olive Oil last week we also moved into our new offices in the center of Torre di Palme.   We received a wonderful response to our initial announcement and would like to personally thank you for all the enthusiasm.  We hope that your interest in our product and our experience in Italy will inspire you to become a member of our olive oil club, Viva Verde.


Viva Verde, a literal translation, live green, conjures several images for us.  Viva Verde, celebrates living green and our olives are a beautiful green color and when pressed, golden, vibrant green.  It’s not only the color of the olive, or the rolling hills here in the Marche, but also as Americans, we think of “green” as environmental. Our colleagues have great respect for the land and know that fertile soil needs personal attention, not chemicals and that quality fruit, such as olives, require minimal intervention.  In Italy, the majority of farmland is organic but Italians don’t necessarily “advertise” this fact.  They think it’s strange and odd that one would make such a fuss about caring for the land, for them, this is normal practice, not an exception. 


Our Italian friends gently tell us that life will take it’s course, saying, “piano, piano” – meaning, go slow.  Things will happen.  Farming takes patience.  This spring was one of the wettest and coolest seasons in 150 years in the Marche region.  We were concerned that the olives weren’t going to bloom but we were reassured they would.  They did and now they are growing into nice plump olives in the warm Italian sun.  Meanwhile, in Oregon, the pinot noir grapes are enjoying a stellar summer and here in Italy, the olives are happily maturing.  On two continents we are closely watching our crops and Mother Nature at work, reminding us nature is its own force throughout the world.  


This weekend I will celebrate with my family a year living in Italy.  While we have noticed many similarities between people and nature in general, there are cultural differences we encounter everyday as Americans in Italy.  As I am setting up systems in our new office I continue to learn how to balance American drive with the Italian way of life.  “Piano, piano” I remind myself as things go at a different pace here and communication is still personal.   The other day we missed an important birthday in the village.  When you miss a day of dropping by the bar, you miss out on all the news.  While Italians love technology, for family and friends, communication is still very traditional – you stop by the bar – have a caffe and find out what’s going on.  This morning I am adding satellite dishes atop a building that is several hundred years old to transport this very message to the United States.  So, I can conduct business on an international level, but somehow I missed a birthday party in my own backyard. 


Working in the village reminds me of working with my family at Ponzi Vineyards.  I worked with my sisters, mother and father everyday so there wasn’t a lot of official correspondence or checking in officially.  We knew when someone was sick or was celebrating a birthday because of our daily interaction and connection.  I am comfortable working in this small village because of the familial environment and certainly feel at home in creating technology systems from my business experience, even if it is in a foreign country and another language.


Creating an American start-up company in another country means straddling two worlds.  I know that besides producing a quality product and family support, technology was instrumental in helping Ponzi grow from a garage-based hobby to an international business that produces 40,000 cases annually.  Technology will never replace face-to-face relationships completely and the Italians hold onto their personal social interactions fiercely.  But I hope through the use of technology we can learn more about different cultures, stay connected with friends, family and business associates, use it for education and to provide opportunity for continued commerce worldwide.


Through Casal Cristiana we will continue to support your interest in good food and good health with information about olive oil.  We know that olives thrive in the Mediterranean zone, which limits production in America.  So as I am attaching all my devices atop the terracotta roofs to transmit messages to my home far away in Oregon and the United States, I hope I can communicate that the olive is a very special fruit in many ways.  Follow our blog to learn more about this ancient food that has sustained and enhanced the health of humans for a millennium.  Viva Verde!




Michel Ponzi


Casal Cristiana

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