Well, after a longer absence than I originally intended, I am finally posting again from Italy!
As of today I will officially be home in a month and be leaving the farm in about two and a half weeks. I can’t believe how fast time has flown. Even being a little homesick I can’t believe how fast the time has gone by and I’m starting to get to the point where I’m sad to leave. I hope to be able to visit them again sometime soon.
The last couple weeks have been pretty busy due to the arrival of many more American kids. Until the 20th of July we will have a group every day. We start out by feeding them a “typical Italian lunch” of pasta with a little taste of their cheeses and some bread. I put the “typical Italian lunch” in quotations just because it’s not very typical. Even here it’s a little Americanized. Though we do serve in stages and give them watermelon for dessert as well as a little crostata (a dense cake thing baked with jelly on top), there’s no protein and no freesh veggies. After lunch, I officially welcome them to the farm, telling them about the animals, how everything’s organic and that they are found in Morano Calabro in the region of Calabria and also in the Pollino National Park. Then we make cheese. It’s an extremely simplified version of what we actually do, which I find funny, but it’s still Pecorino! Every day Giuseppe has made me do more of it alone. I think he’s trying to phase himself so I can do everything on my own at some point. I’m getting closer, which gives me hope that I can make this cheese alone when I get home (I’ve made ricotta on my own a number of times now, officially!)
After we make some cheese, we gather all the kids outside where they get an official welcome to the city. This is said by Giuseppe’s brother Alberto, and I translate. Unfortunately, the welcome changes every day. Sometimes he’s a representative from the City of Morano, sometimes from Pollino National Park. Then he mixes up the wording. I honestly usually end up listening for the important words and making some stuff up I know they’d want me to say. After that, the kids receive a little thank you certificate and the teachers receive a little statue of Morano as a momento. Then we all load onto the bus and go to Il Castello Normanno-Sveva, where I talk about the history of the castle and Morano. After this, the schedule always changes. Sometimes we do a service project where we clean up an area of Morano that has a lot of garbage. Sometimes we go straight to get some gelato and skip the project. Sometimes we go to La Cheisa della Magdalena, the biggest (and an extremely beautiful) church in Morano. We usually finish about 6 or 7. The whole process takes about 5 or 6 hours, not including preparation.
The point of all this was not to bore you with the touristy bits of Morano, but rather to display an interesting side of the business. Apparently in Italy, most small farms like this have some kind of extra activity, whether that’s “didatica” with field trips for kids, or agritourism. This farm has been doing this for about 6 or 7 years.
I learned this from finally doing an interview with Giuseppe. Though I had more questions for him than my contact in the U.S., he talked for about a third of the time. I don’t know if he simplified for my sake or because he didn’t understand what I was saying, but either way I still got a load of information in 15 minutes. I’ll share a little without giving away the main points of my paper (which I’ve been thinking about a lot, and have officially outlined!) .
As I think I’ve said before, this family has been doing this kind of work for about 2000. At a certain point in time, the two sons, Giuseppe and Alberto, had to choose between going to school and finding some modern form of work or a way to make their way of life more modern. Since they had always liked this work and they couldn’t see their future without it, they decided to open the farm in the year 2000. Giuseppe already knew many techniques for making cheese that he had learned from his parents. However, he ended up taking classes in school as well to make them more modern. The types of cheeses they make now are the kinds that are known for the region and it’s what the people ask for. When I asked why they did things everything organically, he simply said it’s because they have the ideal conditions for it. They have natural pastures with native species of animals. His brother Alberto also helps with the cheese-making process in the early morning as well as various tasks on the farm. In addition, he runs the macelleria (butcher) in town where they sell the meat from their animals. Nothin goes to waste!
All in all, the conversation, though brief, was very interesting. The more time I spend here, the more tiny peeks I get into their lives and ideology. Ideally, I could just live here forever and become an integral part of the culture. In my opinion, 2 months isn’t nearly enough. However, with the 2 or so hours that I have to think when I’m cleaning cheese in the refrigerators, I have begun to make connections in my head and outline my paper. I’m pretty excited to get back and start really writing it. It’s starting to look like I’m going to have a lot less transcribing and translating than I thought I would, which is great.
Besides these little bits of my life, I’m going to start using my real camera to take pictures of the farm and of the family and of Morano. I will hopefully be posting at least once more before I leave in a couple weeks. My parents will arrive on the 28th and then we head out on our own little adventure around Italy on the 1st! I’m excited to get a little taste of some other areas outside of my little paese!