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Impressions by Johnny Madge:

Arriving at Villa Pontina makes you feel good even before you have started smelling and tasting their oils. There is a breathtaking view of the sea from the terraces of their olive groves and the trees cling to the rocks almost bonsai-like in their gnarled and noble beauty. Then Francesco takes you into their beautiful house to taste the oil. The variety that Francesco grows is Itrana and so when you pick up a tasting cup to sniff it you start preparing yourself for a wonderful hint of summer: tomatoes, basil, celery and even tomato leaves. But Villa Pontina has all this and something else - it is so herbal, complex and surprisingly peppery it really needs to be tasted to be believed.

I have only just got to know Francesco so there is not much to tell apart from the fact that he is charming and clearly dedicated to making outstanding oil having studied tasting, milling and pruning in detail. So it was amazing the other day, as my choir and I were getting ready to walk a local mountain (on top of which was a candle-filled church waiting for us to sing in) when this guy I sort of recognized waved at me.

"Francesco!" The most extraordinary coincidence and cool for me because we then walked up the mountain talking about oil and his projects for the future. His oils can only get better and better. We are looking forward to the new crop with baited breath!

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