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Raise your hand if you don't like the quality of the food! Few, very few, probably no one would react to this invitation. Yes, it is true, "de gustibus non disputandum est" but good food and good drink at all latitudes on earth help to live better. In most cases it is enough to taste the gifts that nature gives us every day, in others, the mastery of men daily transforms those gifts into as many masterpieces that delight our senses.
If you happen to travel along the Via Cassia in a southerly direction about fifteen kilometers from the pearl of the Italian Renaissance, Florence, you may be lucky enough to come across one of the many pleasure factories dotting the gentle Tuscan hills: La Fattoria Corzano and Paterno.
You will not find it along the state road but at kilometer 17 you will have to pay attention to the indications and coming from Florence with a sharp turn to the left you will get onto a dirt road and in ten minutes you will have reached your destination. A word of advice to those who care about the suspension of their car: moderate speed, without any hurry and enjoy the wonderful corner of Tuscan paradise.
You're there. In general, the Tuscan countryside is inviting, it is stimulating. Enveloping perfumes, wrapping of flavors helps us to disconnect from everyday life. And if you are lucky enough to find yourself at the Fattoria Corzano e Paterno at dusk of a sunny summer then you will not think of anything else but to make your senses enjoy.
The official website reminds us that "La Fattoria Corzano e Paterno, founded by the Swiss architect Wendel Gelpke, is now owned and operated by his heirs, the Gelpke and Goldschmidt families. The farm extends over two hundred hectares (five hundred acres) of verdant and stony hills enabling the production of our extensive range of wines, sheep cheeses, and high-quality olive oil. Corzano e Paterno were once two distinct farms lying adjacent to one another. Gelpke acquiring one, then the other, and in 1976 united them. When Gelpke bought Corzano he acquired two large houses, Il Poggio and Corzanello and a complex of houses, Corzano, as part of the estate. They were in poor condition, lacking modern facilities, and requiring a great deal of restoration. The small and random vineyards were sparse and in poor condition (…) Gelpke moved to Corzano with his seven-year-old son, Till. Gelpke's sister, Katerina Goldschmidt, moved from Holland to Corzanello with her husband Peter and their sons Aljoscha and Pascal. (…) La Fattoria di Paterno sits on the neighboring hill. A much-loved property in the area, it belonging to the Rangoni-Machiavelli family. The property is comprised of the main house and three large farmhouses. Villa Paterno, at the time long uninhabited, is a rectangular building with two internal courtyards flanking a thousand-year-old tower once belonging to the Pitti Family of Florence. They were obliged to sell to meet expenses in the construction of the enormous Palazzo in Florence that bears their name. The Ragoni-Machiavelli family had kept the property for its hunting reserve so when the hunting laws changed they decided to sell. Later these two farms were to form the Fattoria Corzano e Paterno as we know it today".
A few lines to remind an important story from the seventies to today has seen a thriving business develop, wisely dedicated to viticulture and subsequently extended to the production of top-quality dairy products.
I remember the first time that, together with my wife, splendid companion of life and work, I went to the farm: every corner of the earth, every stone of the pavement deserved a break, a moment of peace.
When our friend Oscar pointed out to me the valley that opened before our eyes, down to the trickle of water to immediately go up to the vault of houses located in the west, telling me that "our flock grazes here, in our lands" then I immediately understood that from those lands, from those green and luxuriant fields, masterpieces and cheeses from the Corzano and Paterno could only be born.
Another extract from the official website: "In the early days we sold our milk to another cheesemaker then in 1992 Gelpke bought a dairy and asked Antonia if she would like to be responsible for the cheese production. She apprenticed herself to local cheesemakers and once she mastered the traditional Pecorino went on to invent many other new and original sheep cheeses that have become internationally recognized. "
A short overview of inviting flavors starting from "Picciò", small and round, with a fresh taste and an intense milk flavor. To "Pecorino", processed at low temperatures to keep the natural aromas of fresh milk unchanged. Follows the fantastic and unique "Buccia di Rospo" (means Toad Skin), for its strong taste comparable to certain French cheeses. Soft and creamy under the rind in the summer, in the fall is more matured and still maintaining the taste of good milk! The name is inspired by its particular "flowery crust", wrinkled just like that of a toad.
Blu, amazing blue cheese, whose dough has a white color with the typical blue veins and tends to crumble when cut. Then "Zaffero" with a yellow clay created by the addition of saffron, growing near Florence, and green peppercorns, more delicate than those blacks.
A small leap towards the stronger, more seasoned flavors, and here we are at "Dante" and "Ruota del Re" (King's Wheel): the first seems to be a cross between a classic Italian and an English cheese. "… Its dough resembles a good Parmesan, but inspired by a great English cheesemaker I wrapped these large round shapes with linen soaked in lard, just like they do with real Cheddar". The other is one of the first cheeses made to have a middle ground between simple pecorino and a seasoned one.
There are others but these are my favorites and therefore I always stop here, ready to amaze me again. Fattoria Corzano e Paterno is this and much more.
Until next time.