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Stone Olive Oil Vat, Gambatesa

There are still old pil d'olio (a dialect expression which means "stone vats for storing olive oil") in the caves under the streets of Gambatesa. These are actually big pots carved out of a single stone (The size of the pot depends on the size of the stone) used to keep oil during the year; the oil must be kept cool or it will go rancid. The pots are not made of tufo, which would not be strong enough, but of limestone.

Stone olive oil vat, covered, Gambatesa, 25 KB

The size of this vat can be judged by the chair to the left in the photograph, which is a normal-size household chair. A piece of wood was used to cover the pila d'olio ("oil basin"), and the air in the cantina is cooler than above ground. But these pile are very old, from before glass bottles became common; in those days -- and this goes back to Roman times -- most of the oil was used for lighting lamps, 80 or 90%.

Stone olive oil vat, uncovered, Gambatesa, 30 KB

Photographs by Angelo Abiuso (Geneva), Summer 2008

The URL of this Web page: https://www.roangelo.net/valente/oilstone.html
Last revised: 15 December 2009 : 2009-12-15 by Robert [Wesley] Angelo.

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