Gorga – Milking Time!

October 24, 2014 / Food & Wine
Gorga, Lazio

A bandana on his head to hold back dripping sweat, Giulio sat on the steps just outside the family caseificio (cheese factory) on the outskirts of Lazio mountain village, Gorga. Giulio was carving out a moment’s rest in a long day: after hours of haying, he’d soon milk their fifty goats and three hundred sheep. Looking at his callused ropy hands, I asked him how long he’d been milking. “Since I was five – so that makes fifty years,” he replied with a grin. But cows, he added, “my Papa’ had two hundred cows.”

Gorga caseificio
Giulio, tired and sweaty

As he headed off to milk goats and sheep, my friend Iva and I pushed back the plastic strips dangling in front of the doorway, like colorful plastic spaghetti or fettuccine (but they do the trick, keeping the flies out) heading into the caseificio where Giulio’s hefty wife Anna was lifting rounds of pecorino cheeses out of the tubs of whey. She assists Giulio in the cheese-making in a pristinely clean adjacent laboratory and serves the customers from all over seeking their buonissimi cheeses, ricotta and yogurts.

Cheeses, jsut made
Adjacent cheese-making room - pristine

What an assortment: sheep’s milk cheeses with black peppercorns and others aged in grape skins which flanked aged goat’s milk cheeses, goat’s milk ricotta and goat’s milk yogurt. We bought a bit of all (the last two items were for our breakfast the next day).

Cheeses  - goats' milk and sheep's milk
Yogurt - buonissimo~!

After she wrapped our purchases, Anna took us over to the barn to see the sheep and goats awaiting their turn as Giulio quickly hitched them up to the milking machine a few at a time.  He milks two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. “No vacation for us,” Anna chuckled ruefully.

Goats ready for milking
Goat flock
Giulio on the job - four hours a day

Their son Massimiliano is studying agraria (agriculture) in Perugia “…e ha la passione,” Mamma Anna told us proudly, though she knows that there will be changes when Massimiliano joins them on the land, for “his outlook is more industrial.”  She shrugged and acquiesced “il future e’ quello” (that’s the future).

Yes, it’s the inevitable route of Italy’s agriculture.

But we’re glad we savored the “pre-industrial” goodness that day in Gorga.

MiniCaseificio La Pecorella, Gorga, Lazio. +39.06.970.3766


Anne Robichaud

by Anne Robichaud

An authorized Umbrian tour guide, Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970’s so rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are una passione for her. See Umbria from “the inside”: join her May 2017 ten-day tour centered on discovering Umbria, Anne’s Umbria.

See www.annesitaly.com for more on her Umbria tours. Do see www.stayassisi.com for news on the Assisi apartment – and Assisi countryside guest house – she and Pino now rent out.

Anne writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. Read about her annual U.S. Feb/Mar cooking classes and lectures, as well as her numerous Italy insights on her blog.

27 Responses to “Gorga – Milking Time!”

  1. Joe Studlick

    Another interesting local story that only Anne can discover and document in Umbria!

  2. Ginny Siggia

    What marvelous-looking cheeses! My breakfast was mundane beyond words, jam on toast. A lovely slice of peppercorn cheese would have made such a difference. I learned only recently that my great-great-grandmother made cheese. Maybe that’s a given if you have cows, but it was impossibly exotic to me. The closest I got was accidentally whipping cream too long/vigorously that it turned into butter.

  3. What a wonderful story and great pictures! I too, could almost taste the cheeses! They are certainly hardworking people and I am happy to know they have someone to take over the family business – even if he will “industrialize” it.

  4. Nancy Mazza

    Annie, I’m glad you savored the “pre-industrial” goodness that day in Gorga, also, and I thank you for sharing it with us. It is good to be reminded how much work and devotion and passion goes into the cheeses that I enjoy so casually. Grazie.

  5. Sandie P

    Just another informative article that gives me more insight of La Dolce Vita. Thank you and keep them coming!

  6. E benati

    I do like the article very much but why did you have to say “where Giulio’s hefty wife Anna”

  7. Janet Eidem

    Yum!!! Sure wish we could buy their products in Florida! Are their any like this near Assisi? Great job as always Anne.

  8. a beautiful assortment of christmas gifts. I hope your readers appreciate that their purchases are what keeps the italian notebook going as a free daily newsletter.

  9. David Barneby

    The Cheeses look so delicious , I wish I was there to eat some now . I have made cheese in England and I have helped make Ricotta in Puglia at a friends big farm .

  10. Jan Johnson

    Grazie ancora Annie. Another wonderfully descriptive story celebrating local expertise and years of experience. Buonissimo!

  11. Iva Marchioni

    Ciao Annie, grazie infinite dell’aticolo a parte mia e da parte di Anna, Giulio e Massimiliano (il figlio ) insieme ad altri amici e vicini di casa. Tutti hanno molto apprezzato il tuo articolo e si sono sentiti finalmente valorizzati. Pochi conoscono questi posti, la bellezza della loro rusticità, l’ospitalità della gente e soprattutto la genuinità del modo di vivere.

  12. Patrizia Carroll

    These photos tell such a story. A great example of a family farm, Italian style.

  13. Mary Bernabe

    Wonderful story Anne! I hope all of the Italians really appreciate their good cheeses, we just can’t match them in the states!

  14. Anne, I absolutely love your colorful and descriptive articles and photographs in Italian Notebook about real life in Italy that tourists rarely see. Yours, especially, bring Italy alive and make me wish your stories could be longer, but understand the space limitations. Wonderful as they are, they end before I’m full……not like your plentiful and delicious Italian feasts at your home in Assisi!

  15. Tricia Rosenberg

    Dear Anne,
    The entire notebook site is stunning and transports me to so many wonderful things to see. Loving the rustic nature of handmade food products, I was captivated by today’s story of the cheese makers. The level of dedication to this edible art can only be appreciated when seen in such colorful and rich storytelling….you are a gift to Italy and to us for these insights into appreciation of what one can eat and see.

  16. Diane Cooper

    I have been one of the fortunate few people who got to be a resident of Assisi for a few days thanks to Anne. Living in her rental apartment on a back street, a stairway to the center of town has been such a fun experience. Amazing that you can actually feel like a resident of Italy, and Assisi in only three days. But, when you are with Anne, and you get to meet everyone in town who then treats you like you have lived there forever, you are all of a sudden completely transformed! It is a rare travel experience when you don’t feel like an outsider just passing through. Not to mention the lunch at a secret local spot, the dinner at the neighbor’s farm house (don’t bring wine, and insult them that their grapes aren’t good enough), dinner at Anne’s house (if you are lucky enough to get a cooking class or a meal), (and WOW is it beautiful there!), a tour of all the historical places, with art history, and ancient history 101 made fun and interesting, and I could go on, but it was only 3 days and I still can’t put it all in one comment page. Anyway, I’ll be sad to leave, and already thinking about when I can come back!

  17. Stephanie Webb

    As always, between your amazing photos and your way with words, I’m transported to the lovely world of all things deliciously Italian. Ever since you took me on the rural farm tour I have become so interested in these small farmers who take such pride in crafting their products with something intangible making it uniquely their own. I wish I had a few rounds of their sheep cheese to enjoy. Thanks, again Annie for sharing a bit more of your Italia with us.

  18. Angela sopranzi

    Grazie for sharing such a wonderful story. I agree with all the comments above and look forward to your posts. The best part is that Guilio and Anna look truly happy in what they are doing. How lucky they are!

  19. Louise Montalbano

    Another wonderful article…for another special place to add to our binder of places we will go off to explore. You always make us feel like we need to go tomorrow.. The photos, the personal stories, and the food bring it right to us… Until we hope ourselves. Thanks Anne.

  20. Ditto to Iva…even tho I don’t understand a word she wrote, I’m sure it’s complimentary about the town and the cheese makers!! WHAT a sweet post! Love that town and that sweet couple who obviously work very very hard. And Annie…..that last shot?? You have become a very good photographer with a keen eye!! Love the image of the cheesemaker peering thru the beads!!
    For any of you that may stay at “my nest”….Anne’s apt in town…..(I say “my” because I was the 2nd or 3rd person to stay there after they opened it and I felt it was my home)there is the coolest lil grocer (do not know the Italian word for that) right across the way from the steps when you turn onto the main walkway from the apt….turn right. On your left you will find him! He has the best pecorino and every time I went in, he gave me a sample! He became my buddy and he tried, in oh so many ways, to teach this southern chick how to speak some Italian … while we ate cheese!!
    I miss those days so….
    Anne…..I will say it again…..you need to write that book and you need ME to come photograph for you while you write!!!! heheheh……slick way to get back to my apt, eh???!!!

  21. Angelica Daneo

    mmmmm, cheese! thank you Anna for celebrating small businesses in Italy and the quality they pursue: it is people like Giulio and Anna who makes our Italy great! with so much dedication and hard work … now, if only I could savor their cheese here in Denver! Grazie mille e a presto!

  22. Barbara Colyar

    Beautiful place and hard working friends.. love to get to Gorga and the cheese factory next time we come to Italy and Umbria. I also love your new guest house and hope to stay there on our next trip.


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