The cultivation of “Bella di Cerignola” dates back to ancient times. Cultivation of these olives was surely first to satisfy domestic use demands as opposed to commercial demands. Its diffusion expanded over time around the world, in particular in the United States of America, making this olive one of the most esteemed varieties for consumption. Some authors retain this variety of olive to have derived from Roman “Orchites” olives, while others claim it was introduced from Spain prior to 1400, during the Argonese period. Nevertheless, since it was never present among the indigenous varieties of the Iberian Peninsula, it can be considered an olive variety indigenous of the Cerignola farming area in ancient Daunia, today known as Tavoliere delle Puglie.
The production and marketing of these table olives has always represented an important business sector for Cerignola, and homage should be paid to the workers who over time have lent their willingness and diligence to continue to increase the affirmation of this olive on national and international markets.
There was already mention of cured olives in the Cerignola area being sent to the eastern United States of America in the latter 1800s. These olives were shipped in characteristic wooden barrels known as “Vascidd”, with variable capacities from 50 to 100 kilograms, and even more so in the so-called “Cugnett”, typical cone-shaped wooden recipients in sizes from 5-10 Kg. The latter containers were used to permit smaller volume supply, of a domestic nature, which would have rendered commercial diffusion of olives in faraway America even more profitable and attractive. Subsequently, around 1930 Cerignola olives were introduced in California thanks to the migrant populations reaching the west coast of the United States.
In 1930 the Cerignola olive was considered by a technical commission created for the identification of the best varieties of Italian table olives as one of the most prestigious varieties suitable for the production of green olives.
In 1969, the Technical Agrarian Institute “Giuseppe Pavoncelli” in Cerignola held a specific seminar on the study of “Bella di Cerignola” table olives, participated in by numerous leaders in the agricultural sector, the industrial sector and the world of academics.
In 1976 a work completed in 1974-75 was published by the Agrarian Industries Department of the University of Bari about the Californian processing method use for the Bella di Cerignola black olive, with which this type of processing of the prestigious variety was formally initiated.
In 1980 a work by the Experimental Station for the Food Conservation Industry of Parma was published on the conservation of green and black Bella di Cerignola olives.
A work published in 1984 by the University of Bari specified that the Bella di Cerignola olive, for centuries widespread throughout some of the territories surrounding the Province of Foggia until finally being considered an indigenous species, represents one of the finest varieties for the production of table olives thanks to its constant large size fruits and their excellent quality.
In the year 2000, the “Bella di Cerignola” table olive variety obtained European registration as Protected Designation of Origin “Le Bella della Daunia”.