These black Bella di Cerignola olives from Fratepietro are the largest in the world—and we happen to think they’re the tastiest, too. The prized variety from Puglia can be found in green or black varieties; the color changes as the fruit is allowed to ripen in the grove. Black olives are fully ripened, with a softer texture and less bitterness than their green cousins. These oversized gems have a notably buttery, nutty flavor that is beloved by olive connoisseurs and skeptics alike.
Bella di Cerignola olives have been grown in the valleys of Puglia for centuries, since at least the 1500s. Some claim that the variety was brought to the region by Spanish merchants, which is why it is sometimes known by locals as grossa di Spagna. Over time, local farmers transformed the humble fruit into a uniquely Italian delicacy, and today, olives from Cerignola are protected by DOP certification—an official seal of approval that identifies the most special regional foods in the country and protects consumers from second-rate imposters. (San Marzano tomatoes and parmigiano Reggiano are just a few of the prized foods recognized with a DOP label.)
On the heel of Italy's boot, Puglia is known for its beautiful whitewashed towns, sparkling beaches, and rich agricultural history. It's also home to Agricola Fratepietro, a fifth-generation family-owned company that has been growing Bella di Cerignola olives since 1890. They specialize in agriculture that celebrates their home region, from the famous olives to tomatoes and other vegetables that thrive in the southern heat.