Distributore Automatico

June 19, 2009 / Local Interest
Valiano, Tuscany

Stopping was the only logical thing to do. When else along a small country road between even smaller towns would you have the chance to stop for a coin operated refill… of fresh milk.

The first thing that stood out was the life-sized plastic holstein cow tied to a wooden plank by the road. (Slightly underweight in our opinion, then again it’s unfortunately not the first time far too skinny models have been used to advertise a product.) The second was the blinding, head-light reflecting sign with a stunned-looking cow on it (perhaps from all those headlights) pointing to the driveway of what was obviously a farm, informing drivers-by of a Distributore Automatico (lit. automatic dispenser).

freshmilk2Sure enough, a few coins in the first machine to buy either an empty plastic or glass bottle, and a few coins in the second and voila’… within seconds a full bottle of incredibly fresh milk. And unpasteurized to boot! (No noticeable side-effects to be reported.)

The following day I stopped by again to say hello to Signor and Signora farmer and congratulate them on their incredible idea. Jokingly, I asked whether the hoses ran straight from the cows to the dispenser.

“Sfortunatamente no, ma li sto insegnando a mungersi da sole,” he joked back without missing a beat.

(trans., Unfortunately not, but I am teaching them to milk themselves.)

freshmilk3

freshmilk4

GB

by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

21 Responses to “Distributore Automatico”

  1. jojo

    ..although I am not so caught up with the concept , the interchange of human thought was worth gold.

    Reply
  2. Angelina Limato

    Love the ingenuity! Nice he has a sense of humour too! Would like to taste fresh milk unpasturized. Here some parents pay a lot of money to buy and have to dodge the authorities who are against them feeding it to their children. Thanks for sharing this story and the pictures.

    Reply
  3. Stanley Crabb

    Incredibile! Milk from a machine. When we arrived in Perugia in the spring of 1959, we learned the only place we could actually buy milk from at the bar across the street! Our friend the barista used it, of course, for his wonderful cafelatte and capuccinos. Since we had a very young son, we ordered 2-3 ltrs/day from him. We also remember when we had to pasteurize our own milk — not back in the 1800s, but in 1960, when we lived near the city of Turin. In the small town of Rivoli a farmer would pass by every week and pour about 5 liters of “raw” milk, gathered that morning from his cows, into our electric pasteurizer. About three hours later, heating as it did to a low degree of heat, we had pasteurized milk. Of course, Italy was still recovering from the ravages of the war. After 15 years there were still places where the remains of bombed out buildings had never been removed. That year was the beginning of Italy’s great recovery, and the “boom years” in the Italian economy.

    Reply
  4. I hope that the cows don’t mind being hitched roadside as live advertisement.

    Reply
  5. Fascinating! The ingenuity of the Italian people never ceases to amaze me! And Stanley, I still wish I could have seen Italy in the 1960s! Bombed out buildings or not, it must have been incredible to be there.

    Reply
  6. Michael MARCELLI

    WHAT A WONDERFUL IDEA. I ESPECIALLY LIKED THE GUY’S RESPONSE…IN ITALIAN. I DIDN’T KNOW THE WORD, “MUNGERSI” FOR A SHORT MOMENT I THOUGHT HE MIGHT SAY THAT THEY’D ORIGINALLY HAD AN IDEA FOR THE CUSTOMERS TO MILK THE COW THEMSELVES…WARM BUT FRESHER.

    Reply
  7. Stanley Crabb

    Ben and Sally, actually what was absolutely amazing was indeed the rise in wealth that the 60s and 70s ushered into this traditionally poor country! I remember when there was only one refrigerator for every 27 homes. (Maybe around 1965 or so.) Just a few years later, it was one in THREE! Italian industry, most of which had been destroyed by the war, found itself way behind. Rather than lick their wounds, several industrialists, particularly in the North and Northeast, ordered appliances –washing machines, televisions, etc. — from the USA and from other European countries. They studied how these appliances were made. And then, the Italian engineers borrowed some of the technology, improved on it, reduced the size and weight of the product for the smaller Italian apartments, and suddenly we had washers, refrigerators or even microwaves, etc. Those were indeed the “miracle” years.
    There is so much more. What a marvellous spirit of creativity and industry there was at that time, and there still is. Plus, all of the art, sculpture, music, etc., for which Italy has been known through the centuries. I think they must have received a large portion of creativity that had been intended to be shared around the whole world. One more example: we were living in Turin in 1961 when Italy celebrated its 100th anniversary as a nation. THREE WEEKS before the celebration was to have begun no one thought it possible to meet their deadline of opening day…but THEY DID! The whole area where the events were to take place was a mess! It looked like any big construction project, buildings with scaffolding still in place, all of the ground still had to be prepared with sidewalks, etc. It was a mess. Patsy and I said they’ll never do it. Guess what? On opening day they even had live trees planted, beautiful garden-like walk-ways, etc. That was sooooo Italian, we learned.

    Reply
  8. Gian Banchero

    Dear Ben and Sally;
    Years ago there was evidence everywhere of WWII bombings, even in 1987 one could still see a bombed out waterfront district in Palermo (probably the district hasn’t yet been renovated). I enjoyed walking through the destroyed areas being they reminded me of post War movies, especially OPEN CITY (a MUST see movie). Though I’m retired from my catering service I still collect ancient Italian recipes and cookbooks, the more modern International Italian cooking interests me not perche e’cosi’: I make my aunt’s pasta sauce in a pot she had in her restaurant in Milano, during one of the town’s WWII carpet bombings the pot was being used to cook the above sauce when a bomb hit the building, the “povere baiaca” (poor pot) still shows the signs of being straightened out after being retrieved from the collapsed building…. I don’t know what this has to do with this cow site, it just was interesting to see someone write about someone’s fascination with poor bombed out Italy. —Oh, in the described pot I only make the sauce she was making at the time of the bombing, she called it BAGNA ALLA BOMBA; Bomb Sauce.

    Reply
  9. Stanley Crabb

    Carissimo Gian Banchero, grazie per questo tuo commento. Ahhh il mangiare italiano di allora!! Che nostalgia! Ricordo, per esempio, il pane di Matera. Fatto con farina grezza, sai, che non era stato pulita o “purificata. Un pagnotto pesava ben 7 Kili. Bastava ai contadini di Matera per la giornata intera la’ nei campi — magari due. Fantastico. Il pane di Matera si puo’ pure comprare, non non sa di niente ora. E’ tutt’altra farina. E si protrebbe dire simile cose ti molti altri cibi di allora. Ora sono tutti manofatti e mancano di sapore e di qualita’. Si’, la gente era povera, ma mangiavano molto meglio allora.

    Reply
  10. Pat Ceccarelli

    This one was just waiting for GB to pass by- perfect! and I see your (See Map) for those of us (like me!) who didn’t realize such a wonder at my fingertips for locating with such ease places featured in Italiannotebook..Bravo again!

    Reply
  11. BLUEBERRY GROWERS WIFE

    THANK YOU FOR FINDING THIS VERY SMART WAY TO GET A PRODUCT SOLD,
    WE HAVE FRIENDS IN ITALY AND GERMANY THAT STRUGGLE TO GET 40 CENTS PER LITER MILK THEY ARE ALWAYS STRESSED
    THIS I HOPE WILL HELP A FARMER GET A FAIR PRICE.
    BY THE WAY WE GET ONLY $2 PER POUND OF U-PICK BERRIES WHILE IN THE STORE THEY CAN GET $7.50 PER POUND. IT SEEMS TO ME THAT ALL OVER THE WORLD THE FARMERS ARE GETTING THE SHORT END OF THE STICK. I AM WONDERING WHY ANYBODY WOULD WANT TO DO THIS HARD WORK. GOD BLESS THE FARMERS.

    Reply
  12. What a great idea. It reminds me of the wine co-op I visited in southern France where one could bring one’s own bottle and fill up with a choice of about three wines. The dispenser was just like the handle at our local gas station, hose and all.

    Reply
  13. Ben & Sally Coletti

    Dear Gian B & Stanley C: Thank you so very much for your replies to our comment. Sharing with us your personal experiences is deeply appreciated. We hope to visit Italy pretty soon! More power to both of you. God bless!

    Reply
  14. Monisha

    Hi there, I would happily support the farmersand tell the middleman to go find another job. I owuld love to go to farms to buy their produce and go to supermarkets to buy things that we can’t get locally and from farmers.

    Reply
  15. Angelina Limato

    Glad I could still pull this one up. Need to re-post to facebook for someone.

    Reply

Leave a Reply