Last updated on October 26th, 2023
Olive oil in Italy is like beer in America. There are so many choices and each one will differ from its neighbor, produced right down the road. Also, the same olive oil will change in flavor and color from year to year depending on various factors like weather and rainfall.
Most olive oil in Italy is amazing. Even if you don’t hunt down the ‘best of the best,’ the generic olive oil sold at the local corner store will be high-quality.
If you want the best Italian olive oil, read on. We will cover:
- What makes a good olive oil
- Regional information in regard to olive oil
- Our top 15 Italian olive oils to try + descriptions and details
- How to bring olive oil home
- Quick, good to know info and where to purchase online.
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What To Look For in an Italian Olive Oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Country of origin: Italy
- Certifications such as biologico (organic), DOP, DOC
- Manufactured and bottled in Italy
- Bottled in dark glass or aluminum can
- Bottle date of current year (or within a year of date)
- Olive harvest of current year (or within a year of date)
Watch Out: One of the biggest tricks that labels can play on us is trying to sell us bottled oil far after the oil is produced. Be sure the bottle date is about within a year (no more!) of the harvest date. Some producers will bottle oil from last year’s harvest and even though it is labeled clearly on the back many tourists who don’t know will miss this small detail and get an old oil. Be warned!
Best Olive Oil Regions in Italy
About three-quarters of Italy’s regions produce olive oil and they are all very good. Some are spicier, some are sweeter but no region is better than another – just different. Some are bold and complex while others are delicate and light. Here is a rundown of the percentage of olive oil production in Italy by region:
- Tuscany: 3%
- Umbria: 2%
- Puglia: 37%
- Calabria: 33%
- Campania: 6%
- Sicily: 8%
- Abruzzo: 4%
- Lazio: 4%
- Veneto, Liguria, Basilicata, Molise, Marche & Sardinia combined: 5%
Best Italian Olive Oils
|Puglia||Olio Allegretti||Best Premium Olio Japan||In Italy|
|Campania||Crux – Fattoria Ambrosio||Best Premium Olio JapanBest in show Leone D’Oro||In Italy|
|Campania||Riserva – Fattoria Ambrosio||Best Blend Leone D’Oro||In Italy|
|Puglia||Coratina – Azienda Agricola Leuci||Best Premium Olio Japan||No|
|Puglia||Coratina – Maselli||Best Small Producers Leone D’Oro||In Italy|
|Veneto||Fioi||Best Blend Leone D’Oro||No|
|Puglia||DOP Terra di Bari – Le Tre Colonne||Best Medium Fruity DOP Ercole OlivarioDOP certified||No|
|Puglia||Cima di Bitonto||Best Intense Fruity DOP Ercole Olivario||In Italy|
|Sicily||U’Ciuri||Best Organic Olive Oil from Leone D’Oro Organic Certified||In Italy|
|Abruzzo||Crognale||First place Leone D’Oro||In Italy|
|Puglia||De Carlo DOP Terra di Bari||Best Medium Bodied Fruity Olive Oil Ercole Olivario||In Italy|
|Puglia||Cagnara DOP||Best Full Bodied Fruity Olive Oil Ercole Olivario||In Italy|
|Sardegna||Lelais||Best Light Fruity Olive Oil Ercole Olivario||No|
|Sardegna||Iliò||Best Medium Fruity Olive Oil Ercole Olivario||No|
|Puglia||BIO – Azienda Intini||Best Organic Olive Oil Ercole Olivario||In Italy|
In no particular order, these are the best Italian olive oils:
From Tenuta Allegretti in Puglia, this oil is 100% Coratina organic extra virgin olive oil. It was awarded the premium (best of the best) prize in the internationally acclaimed oil fair “Olive Japan.” This oil is spicy and bold, with notes of wild herbs and artichokes.
Crux – Fattoria Ambrosio
This extra virgin olive oil is made from 100% Coratina olives from Fattoria Ambrosio in Campania. It was awarded the premium prize at “Olive Japan” and the Best Of Leone D’Oro. The flavor is intense and very fruity. Great for salads and as a finishing oil.
Riserva – Fattoria Ambrosio
This brand has been doing something right in its production of olive oil because their “Riserva” has also been awarded the Best Blend from Leone D’Oro. Made from both Coratina olives and Itrana olives, this oil is a bit bitter with a spicy bite. This has been applauded by many, including the Slow Food movement and Gambero Rosso.
Coratina – Azienda Agricola Leuci
This is the last of the Italian olive oils to have won the premium prize at “Olive Japan.” From Azienda Agricola Leuci in Bari, Puglia, this extra virgin olive oil is particularly fruity and bold. Head straight to the farm to meet the producers and buy direct.
This olive oil made by Azienda Agricola Maselli from Puglia won the Best Oil for Small Producers, given by Leone D’Oro. This bright green oil is spicy with hints of wild herbs and artichokes, typical of the Coratina olives.
This medium-intensity extra virgin olive oil from the family-run Azienda Agricola Orlandi Carlo in Verona, Veneto, is their most prized oil earning recognition for various authorities like the Leone D’Oro for Best Blend made from Grignano e Peranzana olives. Fioi means “children” in their local dialect, to whom they dedicated this oil.
DOP Terra di Bari – Le Tre Colonne
Produced in Bari, Puglia, this extra virgin olive oil is considered one of the best DOP oils from Puglia. Like most oils from Puglia, this one is fruity, best used as a finishing oil drizzled over vegetables, grilled meats or salads.
Cima di Bitonto
This extra virgin olive oil by Azienda Agricola Amore Coltivato from Bari was awarded the Best Small Producers award from Leone D’Oro and for good reason: the oil is light yet flavorful with a hint of spice that you feel at the back of your throat when you taste it.
Considered by some the most avant-garde olive oil in Italy today, made famous for its numerous prizes, including Best Organic Olive Oil from Leone D’Oro, Miceli & Sensat has really made a name for itself in the world of Italian olive oil. The Nocellara del Belice olives are harvested using the brucatura method of harvest to ensure the olives are unharmed before being milled, creating one of the most flavorful and luxurious oils Sicily offers!
Azienda Agricola Tommaso Masciantonio makes this lovely extra virgin olive oil from Crognalegno olives. The color is dark, and the flavor is perfectly balanced between fruity and spicy with hints of almond. Although olive oil isn’t typically produced in Abruzzo, this one stands out, having won several prizes.
De Carlo DOP Terra di Bari
Produced in Bari by the Azienda Agricola De Carlo, this oil is considered one of the best medium-bodied fruity oils from Puglia. It won first prize in its category at Ercole Olivario. The olives are picked by hand and within 12 hours, they are already pressed.
This cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil is made from Coratina olives by Azienda Ciccolella. The oil is characterized by its strong fruity flavor and intense green color with golden-yellow shades as it ages. They have created a great user-friendly website to shop from in Italy.
This extra virgin olive oil from Sardegna made by Azienda Moretti Laura di Ittiri is considered the best light fruity oil by Ercole Olivario. Light oils like this should only be used for salads and seafood that won’t overpower the oil. Unless you head straight to the source or see it for sale in Sardegna, this is a harder oil to get your hands on, but it is truly special.
For medium-bodied olive oil, many consider this one made in Sardegna one of the best. It has been awarded the best in its category by Ercole Olivario. Produced by the cooperation Olivicoltori Oliena, a small business that only produces a small amount but has gained traction quickly.
BIO – Azienda Intini
This organic extra virgin olive oil is one of the best options if you want organic oil from Puglia. The oil is intensely flavored with lots of fruity notes. Made from Coratina olives, this oil is best used as a finishing oil on fish and other seafood.
- Verdemare: Azienda Agricola Cosmo di Russo di Gaeta (Lazio)
- CM Centoleum: Azienda CM (Umbria)
- All oils: Agraria Riva del Garda (Lake Garda)
- All oils: Zottopera (Sicily)
How to Bring Olive Oil Home as a Souvenir
- Check customs and country requirements before investing in good oil.
- If you can, get a can of oil instead of a bottle. It travels better and is less likely to break.
- Make sure the seal is closed properly. If you have tape, tape the top of the bottle.
- We suggest wrapping it well in bubble wrap and then tightly in a plastic bag in case of a leak.
- If you can’t see the label well because of wrapping, label it, so TSA knows what it is
- Travel with oil in your checked baggage only unless it is a tiny bottle under 100ml.
- Just be sure there are no additives that aren’t allowed into your country (although Italian olive oils should not have additives or preservatives).
Don’t feel like bringing olive oil home with you? Check out our list of the Best Italian Olive Oils in America.
Keep in Mind: Italian olive oils will separate if they aren’t used quickly. Just keep this in mind and don’t use the last couple of tablespoons in the bottle if you notice they are cloudy and dirtied with remnants of the milling process in the bottom of the bottle.
Best Italian Olive Oils FAQ
Some brand name Italian olive oils in the US are higher quality than others but they will typically not stand up to Italian standards of extra virgin olive oil. Even if you get one of the better ones like Bertolli Rich Taste or Filippo Berio it won’t be even close to the stuff you are getting in Italy.
If you want an extra virgin olive oil that is imported you are going to need to head to a specialty grocery store/Italian niche marketplace. They should have several options but they will be much more expensive than what you can get in Italy because of importation costs and taxes.
There is a huge window for this but generally speaking if you go straight to the producer you are going to pay around EURO 12-15 per liter. This might be more depending on certifications they have such as being organic or biodynamic, DOP or DOC. If, however, you purchase through a retailer, you will pay anything from 15-35 depending on the quality and certifications of that specific oil.
Tip: if you buy a huge aluminum 5 liter container of olive oil you will most likely be given a good discount. Be sure to ask if it’s not clear. Other retailers will also provide discounts if you buy more than one bottle.
This is because Tuscany has invested so much more than other regions in marketing. After tourism took off and Tuscany was able to economically support itself much better, it took the opportunity to market everything it produced to foreigners as being “Tuscan” and therefore, the absolute best.