Knowledge keepers

The conservation of the local dairy expertise was the result of the ability to share and hand down knowledge, services, capacities and products which were not only a heritage of the dairy breeders, but also professional cheese makers, and, above all, the seasoners-traders.

Already from before 1880 there were three main players linked to the agricultural-pastoral and dairy food chain:

The “bergamì”, the farming aristocracy, were large scale breeders who owned grasslands, stables and barns which were used from May to June, for the climb to the mountains and the brief Autumn period before the descent to the plains.

The “particulaar” or “casali” were farmer-breeders with few heads of animals. Their cheese -small sized stracchini, cheese and cheese types – were produced mainly for home consumption. They sold butter and calves to survive economically.

The “neguziàant” were traders as well as seasoners. When the producers sold them fresh stracchini, it was their job to salt, treat, turn them over, move them from one place to another according to the temperature and humidity, clean and “sponge” the crust by shifting them from warmer or cooler places.

The seasoners, much as the bergamì represent an element of continuity between an ancient past and the present, but also explain how the Orobic dairy tradition, by virtue of its prestige, has radicated itself well beyond local borders of the Ticino and Oglio rivers.

Curiosity

The notary from Bergamo, Giovanni Volpi records the sale of a cheese shop in Piazza Vecchia “to the scalini” (those who lead to the hall of the Regional palace) from Giacomo Calvetti to the Migliorini brothers, a bergamini family from Carona. In the sales list the first item is 30 forms of three tear old fatty mountain cheese at a cost of 12 Lire per weight (average of 19 kg). Thereafter 55 forms of 2 year old fatty mountain cheese at 11.5 Lire per 19.5 kg. After this, fatty mountain cheese “with a little tainting” (69 pieces of 168 kg at 10 Lire per weight). The tainted ones were sold at 8 Lire per weight. Same price for the lean cheese “for grating”. The thick cheeses with tainting were sold at 6,75 per weight.