Sicily, an island colonized by the most important civilizations of the past, has a deep bond with Greece, the result of a domination that has brought culture and traditions that still persist.
Random has it that Messina, a Sicilian city, overlooking the strait of the same name, is twinned with Messene, the Greek “sister” city that rises in Messenia and from which the first founding settlers departed.
As a Sicilian, telling the story of a Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil, based in the region of Messenia (precisely in Filiatra) is a pleasant coincidence to underline two cultures close to each other.
LIÁ Premium Extra Virgin Olive oil is a fascinating family story, of a brother and a sister who decide to take up the inheritance of grandparents and parents, producing a quality product.
Hand-picked, linen bags used to bring the olives to the milling (carried out on the same day of harvest), cold extraction, care of the packaging, tradition and innovation, are some of the keys to the success of LIÁ, present in many European specialized shops and not only.
Cristina Stribacu, co-founder of LIÁ Extra Virgin Olive Oil, tells the story of his company, based in Messinia, Greece.
When and how was your company born?
I have studied Art History in Florence and everybody asks me, how can an art historian be connected with olive oil?
Perhaps, I studied it because I grew up in the picture of my grandparents landscape among the 3500 trees which became my playmates.
While I was in Florence, the passionate discussions with my Italian friends about whose family had the best olive oil, led me to start following courses in that subject. Because I wanted to prove with data that we had the best!
So, in my heart, it was obvious that one day I will come and work in my Family’s Olive Garden. Because the Olive Tree is our life and making High Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil from a Single Estate is a Form of Art!
My brother, Konstantinos Stribakos, an excellent olive oil producer, was working in our olive garden producing a premium product and he was just selling in bulk to other companies. All that quality was getting mixed up with other oil and the premium quality getting lost.
So, in 2012, we decided to create our brand LIA Extra Virgin Olive Oil, as a premium brand. Studying art taught me to combine form and function and that’s how the white bottle came to be. It protects the oil by keeping the light out and is beautiful to look at.
Where does the name LIÁ come from?
LIÁ Comes from the greek word ELIÁ that mean olive tree. When I was kid I could not pronounced the E in front of the word and I was telling – I want to it a LIÁ – lets go to the LIÁ ecc.
When we decided to make our own brand we choose this nick name as a good memory of our childhood.
In which area of Greece are your olive groves located and what is the characteristic of this geographical area?
Our land is Filiatra, a picturesque provincial town in Messenia, Greece, situated close to Mount Egaleo and cooled by the breeze of the Ionian sea, whose exceptional quality of soil interacts with the unique microclimate. All these factors contribute to olive cultivation in optimum environmental conditions.
Our land is both mythologically and historically tightly linked to two ancient Greek cultural centres; Nestor’s Kingdom and Ancient Messene. These strong bonds with the past are a basic source of inspiration, in order to offer you one of the fundamental goods of Messenian culture which we deeply respect: our unique Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
What cultivars do you grow?
Our tree belongs to Koronèiki variety, which is a native one in Greece. Its fruit ripens between November and December and produces olive oil of excellent quality whose special features comprise a combination of a fruity, bitter and pungent taste and flavour apart from its exceptionally low acidity.
Why is LIÁ olive oil special?
From the begging of my business endeavour I wanted to create a premium brand, premium not in terms of marketing but premium because of its healthy properties, authenticity, natural taste but also premium regarding the respect to nature, to people who work in the whole production and also in regard to the biodiversity, respect to the environment. All this makes LIA very special!