Cheese Travels with Jim Wallace

A journal of travels to explore the old ways, history, and process. Visits with the cheese makers and photographs of the surrounding beauty. Jim teaches traditional cheesemaking in the US and can be contacted via ...

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Western Massachusetts USA, United States
I have been visiting cheese makers throughout Europe for many years now, researching the old ways of traditional cheese making . I currently teach several workshops on traditional cheese making in the US and can be contacted at ... ____ In my recent past I have traveled the wild places of this planet making photographs and fine prints. The blend of my cheese travels and making photographs combines the best of both worlds.

October 9, 2009

Sept 15-17 the Cinque Terra

Rain today but good for the long drive from Trento to Vernazza via Modena and Parma. Most of it is Autostrada and the drive definitely requires 110% of our attention. As we cross the Appenines the sun breaks out for the drive to the sea.
Once we leave the highway it is just one steep turn on top of the next heading down to the sea.

Our target is the big parking lot in Monterosa and catch the train, but a wrong turn puts us in the wrong place. A call to our friends Michelle and Giuliano in Vernazza and we find that there is parking just outside of town so its back up the mountain to Vernazza.

We finally arrive and Giuliano leads us to the room he has found for us which happily is a full apartment right off the main street. The village is much busier than we remember so we hibernate a bit until the trains slowly bring the numbers down. These days many folks just come for the day. The evening quiets down somewhat but also brings the rain again. Although we were really hoping for nicer weather for our 2 days of R&R here, the wet really brings out the colors and reflections in this village on the sea. These 2 days are our "vacation" from cheese, so do not expect anything on the topic.

Robin is off again in search of the famous Vernazza "gatos" again and for sure finds them waiting in the Piazza and narrow streets.

We all know that "fresh" is the reason Italian food has such a great reputation and this early morning photo of the veggies arriving before  the crowds appear tells the story quite well. In Italy if the ingredient can not be found locally it's not going to be on the table for dinner.

We also are here during the grape harvesting time and as we wander through the narrow streets of the village we do notice a few "cantina" or cellar doors open where grapes are being turned into wine. As you can see by the photo to the right, the grapes are grown on very steep slopes in very small plots by the families in the village. These are then brought down by hand and carried to the cellars. The best of these are then hung from the ceilings to reduce the moisture in the grape before making wine. This wine is called Sciacchetra and is quite expensive.
Having the apartment for this village was a bonus because we finally had a chance to prepare our own simple meal. Local Pasta, Pesto from the deli downstairs, a fresh salad, and a bottle of Persecco. Thursday morning the sun finally breaks through again but it is time to leave. On the way out we get a chance to spend a little time with our friends Michelle, Giuliano, and little Sophia.

The rain is not all bad as this photo  shows in the piazza as the sun is trying to break through. Its just a different mood.

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