Thursday, July 21, 2016

Farewell Cremona…Hello Florence!

The Cremona area felt a bit like home for many East River South Dakotan's as corn and bean fields and flat to gently rolling farmland is normal the area. This morning we packed up our luggage and headed to three more farm tours prior to entering the hills of Tuscany and the city of Florence.

Before getting into the details of our day, I will share a few ins and outs of coffee in Italian culture. A coffee or caffe as the Italians call it is actually an espresso shot by American standards. We have been drinking caffe's (espresso shots) at the end of every formal meal we have eaten as a group. Italians do not drink all the "foo foo" drinks that one can purchase in Starbucks for Caribou Coffee in the USA. Actually they are no where to be found in Italy as the companies likely realized the business would not succeed in a country with such a strong coffee culture. If you are a American coffee drinker, I highly suggest doing a bit of studying on the Italian coffee etiquette prior to traveling to the country.

The very common Italian coffee, otherwise known as a shot of espresso by Amerincans.
Now on to the first visit of the day, a tour of a typical historical farm house and the COFA AI Stud farm. 
The OSAC farm originated in the 1500's and was purchased by the current family in the early 1900's. As is typical it is a courtyard surrounded on all four sides. During WWII the farmers had a bit of advantage as they could close the gates during the night and this would often keep the German soldiers away. 
This historical farm was an antique lover's paradise. Here we learned about how the wooden spacer was placed between the sheets of the bed and a pot of hot coals set in the middle to warm the bed prior to electricity.
We also learned about making Nochino, a hazelnut liquer. Supar, hazelnuts and water
are placed in the  glass jug and set outside to ferment for 40 days. Then brought inside
and placed in a dark room for another 30 days before it is really to drink.
The soils we have seen in the first five days of the trip have been mainly clay.
This makes irrigation very important for the region.
 Next we stopped at the Az Ag. Boccarone, a 30,000 head beef finishing operation and biogas facility.

This 1729 acre operation raises all its own feed, produces biogas, raises some hogs and
also has solar panels. The cattle are required by law to have 2.5 square meters of space per head.
The pens are much smaller than those in comparable cattle facilities in the USA.

We then ate lunch and toured the Monte Baducco donkey farm. Yes, there really is a donkey farm with 1000 head of donkeys raised for both milk  and milk.
Another beautiful Italian Farmhouse.

The donkeys are raised for meat, powdered and regular milk for consumption and also milk for cosmetic purposes.
There are body lotions, hand and foot creams and facial cream all contain donkey milk.