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Sapune – Olive Oil Soap

I remember the huge chunks of homemade soap when we were growing up.   When we spent the summers in Italy, the women would go to the local fountain or cibia to wash cloths in the morning and they would bring the soap along with them.  Most fountains had a built in wash board and if someone was already there washing cloths, you would wait your turn as you caught up on town gossip.  (Washing machine?  what’s a washing machine?)  Few people still go to the fountains to wash cloths anymore but the wash boards are still there… a reminder of days not too long ago.

Two women making sapune in Calabria

Thanks to family friend Jennifer C. for the photo.

My family still makes soap – there was soap made from pork fat when we used to kill the pig every year and there was olive oil soap.  I’m happy to say that we still make the olive oil soap and we’ve been making it here in the US now that we are bringing our family olive oil over from Italy.  It’s an every day soap that’s great for sensitive skin.  In Calabrian dialect it’s called Sapune – Sapone is the correct spelling in Italian… for me, it brings back happy memories – it’s sad to see a lot of these old traditions disappear, so hopefully we can continue to bring some of them back so that they’re not forgotten.  The recipes, the way of life, the traditions that we grew up with – they can only be passed along if we do our part.  What family traditions do you wish you still had?

Olive Oil Soap made here in the US with oil from our family groves in Calabria.


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3 comments to Sapune – Olive Oil Soap

  • Wow, I love those old pics. But what is great about it is that if you go there today, you can still see that taking place. My family would make tomato sauce but not soap, but I bet the same pride and craftsmanship went into it as the pride of being Italian and doing a good job is always evident.
    Good post, Larry

  • Bos2Phx

    I’d love to try and make your sapune. Can you give put the recipe?

  • What a wonderful post, Joe Glad to know you are still making the soap like the old days. We have been thinking about ttrying to make some ourselves, one of these days. Unfortunately we don’t have the olive trees.

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