Olive trees landscape in Puglia, South of Italy

Ulivo, the symbolic tree of Italy that has captivated Japanese designer Yuko Matsuzaki

In Italy, among the many internationally recognised specialities is certainly Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the basis of the Mediterranean Diet and a precious product that the whole world envies us. Behind this much-loved and appreciated product is a tree, the olive tree, that characterises the landscape of almost all of Italy, especially in the southern regions. One in particular boasts a very high number of olive trees, even the highest concentration of centuries-old and even millenary olive trees in Italy; this is Puglia. This region, known for its crystal clear sea and delicious food, has most of its landscapes characterised by these wonderful plants, which have become yet another distinctive and characteristic element. Unfortunately, however, for some years now the situation has been changing and these trees are increasingly endangered.

The cause is the Xylella bacterium, a devastating bacterium that has been affecting olive trees in Apulia and beyond since 2013, causing them to wither and leaving behind a ghostly landscape. This phenomenon is seriously affecting local farmers and the entire economy that revolves around oil and olives, as well as ruining the landscape and destroying a typical local species.


Puglia, olive trees affected by the Xylella bacterium


Designer Yuko Matsuzaki was struck by the damage caused to olive trees after a trip to Apulia and then decided to take action by doing something that could concretely help the region and its farmers.

In fact, Yuko decided to dedicate a shoe to Apulia and its olive trees. It is a black velvet moccasin, presented for the first time at Pitti Immagine 2023, which features an olive tree embroidered on the upper. The olive tree in question is the 'Thinking Olive' of Ginosa, a town in Puglia from which the shoe itself takes its name.


The "Ginosa" Loafer - Seishou


The 'Ulivo pensante' (thinking olive tree) of Ginosa is a centuries-old tree whose peculiarity is that it has the outline of a human face on its trunk, as if carved in wood, hence its nickname 'Ulivo Pensante' (thinking olive tree).

This iconic and unique tree has become the symbol of the town, which celebrates it by depicting it almost everywhere, even near the house numbers.


Thinking Olive Tree of Ginosa - Olitaly.it


The Ginosa project was created precisely with the aim of replacing the olive trees killed by the bacterium and trying to repopulate the most affected areas, trying to give concrete help to Apulian farms. The initiative consists in planting an olive tree for every pair of Ginosa shoes sold.

A project that celebrates Italy and its products, demonstrating how much Yuko Matsuzaki is linked to Apulia and Made in Italy.

A country, Italy, that Yuko has been able to call home for many years now, given her residence in Milan.

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