It’s Saturday and you know what that means – football! Well, it’s early in the morning and Dick is concentrating on the football scores on the iPad while I’m getting our suitcases together because we are leaving in an hour to head north and change hotels to have a day of cheese and vinegar tasting. So, I ask Dick what time it is. He says 18 to 6. I’m thinking okay I have time to… whatever. NO! He was giving me the football score for ASU! (they were in the middle of a Friday night game which was showing up for us on Saturday morning.) Well, needless to say, I checked my own watch after that. I knew I could not get his full attention until the ASU game was over. (They won BTW.)
We’re on the auto strada heading to parmigiana reggiano country and what do we see? Hot air balloons, a number of them off to the side of the freeway. What a rare treat. One of the advantages of traveling at the crack of dawn. Then we were surprised because the police were out in full force and actually slowed traffic down – you know how they do swerving back and forth between the lanes. In Italy they also leave the passenger door open while they are swerving back and forth. Really? Antimo said that the American Ambassador was visiting the area so this must have been a security precaution. Gosh and we thought it was for us – since we feel like we’ve been treated like royalty on this trip.
The cheese farm was truly an experience!! Again it is a family owned and run business. They produce 6,000 wheels of cheese a year with 350 cows. They are milked twice a day and the morning batch of milk is processed immediately, and the afternoon milk rests until the morning in a steel thingy (technical term for I don’t know what it was – I saw it but can’t explain it). 1,100 liters of milk produce 2 big wheels of cheese. For 1 kilo of cheese you need 16 liters of milk. They are very proud of the flavor and certification they achieve. They told us it starts with what they feed their cows, all organic and natural. He told us the spices and ingredients – it went over my head.
So what I did find super fascinating was that each cow has a fit bit attached to their ankle. It monitors their activity which is closely watched by the farm. They want to make sure their cows are fit and getting a good balance of food and activity. I won’t share with you Dick’s comments on my fit bit and the cow fit bit. Let’s just say, what is said in Italy, stays in Italy.
In the production facility we saw how they make the cheese, the daily tendering they do, moving it, turning it, making sure it is aging correctly. They move it every few hours except from midnight to 6:00 am. There is a lot to the certification of this cheese and it can only be certified by their government people who come to the farm and check each and every wheel of cheese. Imagine – in this facility alone today there were 11,000 wheels of cheese. That’s a lifetime job wouldn’t you say?
Next was a cheese tasting. We tasted cheese aged 1, 2, and 3 years. OMG – if you like parmigiana reggiano cheese you would have given your tastebuds a treat.
We left the farm and headed back down the auto strada to our next destination, the balsamic vinegar farm. We are in sportcar country now, you know, Ferrari, Lamborgini, and other famous sportscars. As we were driving, a Ferrari passed us at God only knows how fast (I think we were doing 90). Dick was checking to see if there was a blond driving the car like in the Griswald’s vacation movie. Christie Brinkley I think? Anyway, it passed fast you just saw a blur of red go by.
This is the outside of the train station. I forget what town we were in, but amazed at how modern it was. We didn’t go inside but have to give a bravo to the Italians, they are creative in old and new architecture.