Amanda and Marco
Olivando was founded in 2020 by us, husband and wife Marco Simonelli & Amanda Forman. Olivando focuses on estate-produced, hand-harvested, cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Umbria.
Olive trees surround our estate, which has been in Marco’s family for four generations. Some of our trees are more than 300 years old, some were planted by Marco’s grandfather Vicenzo, and some by his uncle Luigi.
When we first arrived in Italy from Oklahoma we were focused solely on our destination wedding photography and planning business, Simonelli Studio. Eventually, we made our way to Umbria, a relatively undiscovered region with a lot to offer (especially if you prefer to stay off the beaten path). Where we live is surrounded by woods and olive groves that had been a little neglected through the years. Olive trees tend to turn wild when not pruned regularly. The grass, bushes and vines were out of control. So we started cleaning up, one tree at a time. Initially, it was simply for the personal satisfaction of bringing these old trees back to their original splendor. We did it in our spare time. Then 2020 happened, and, well, no weddings for a while. So we decided to kick it up a notch.
Much of the initial lockdown was spent climbing trees with clippers and a saw, trimming branches, clearing some seriously spiky blackberry vines, or wrestling firmly adhered ivy off a tree trunk. Our silver lining to year 2020 was a great harvest and the launch of Olivando. We have a saying around here – When life gives you olives, make olive oil!
What we do
Getting the olive oil into the bottle is no easy task. It requires paying attention and understanding the messages given by the trees, the soil, and the entire ecosystem around us. It means dealing with the unpredictable changes in weather and mutating seasons. We are directly involved in every step of the process: pruning, harvesting, pressing, bottling, labelling, boxing, and exporting. It’s hard work being an olive oil producer, but we love what we do.
Sustainability is a layered word and requires being approached accordingly. We want the olives to be grown in a way that harmonizes with the surrounding environment, not in a way that changes it. What does that mean? It means no irrigation or fertilizers. Most of the energy utilized to produce our olives comes from sweat and hand labor. There is a wide variety of grasses, weeds, and wildflowers that grow underneath the trees. It’s wild, and we like it that way. The bees we keep seem pretty happy about it too.
We also put a lot of thought into our packaging. We selected containers that are recyclable and produce the minimum amount of waste.
Sustainability also means a lot to us personally. It means that with your purchase you help sustain not just our family but also the families of the local people that help us craft this olive oil.
We wish you could have met Marco’s grandfather, Nonno Cencio. When he would go to the mill to check on his olives he would warm up few drops of olive oil by rubbing his hands together to smell the fragrance of the new oil. We wish you could meet Aziz, who last fall taught us how to pick olives the Moroccan way, with no power tools – just a branch from the olive tree. Or perhaps you could meet Giacomo, who followed his dreams and built a state-of-the-art olive oil press in the prettiest mountains of Umbria.
Driving around these hills you can see the skills and passion that every grower puts into taking care of their trees. It’s almost a beauty contest for pruners. Once, at an olive producers event, a fellow grower said something that summed it up. He pointed to the noisy crowd of attendees who were chatting during a break and said, “See, look at this crazy bunch. Once you decide to make olive oil, you become part of this club. They sure look happy, don’t they?”