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Articles by: Roberta Cutillo

  • Facts & Stories

    Berrettini Will Play Nadal in US Open Semifinal

    "What a great fight,” commented the 23-year-old from Rome after a gripping three hours and 57 minute-long match against the 33-year-old Frenchman Gaël Monfils, which he won in five sets: 3-6 6-3 6-2 3-6 7-6 (5).

     

    “I think it was one of the best matches I ever saw,” continued Matteo Berrettini, “I was playing, but I was watching also. I’m very proud of myself.” And all of Italy is proud too and pleasantly surprised by this unexpected turn of events.

     

    It is the fourth time in the Open Era - which started in 1968 - that a male Italian player reaches a Grand Slam singles semifinal: Adriano Panatta won the 1976 Roland Garros and was a semifinalist in 1972 and 1975, Corrado Barazzutti made it to the semifinals in the 1977 US Open and the 1978 Roland Garros, and finally 26-year-old Marco Cecchinato was a semifinalist in last year’s Roland Garros.

     

    Berrettini and Cecchinato are, along with 24-year-old Lorenzo Sonego, part of the new generation of extremely young Italian tennis players who are quickly rising up the global ranks, making their towards a Grand Slam victory, something Italy hasn’t seen in 43 years. (ed. note that we are speaking only of male players here, recently Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone have given Italian fans great joy by respectively taking home the 2015 US Open and the 2010 Roland Garros)

     

    Tomorrow Berrettini will face the world’s No.2 player, Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard, who beat the Argentine Diego Schwartzman 6-4 7-5 6-2 in a much quicker match yesterday, is the last of The Big Three - which include Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic - left in the tournament. 

     

    The other two semifinalists, Grigor Dimitrov from Hungary and Daniil Medvedev from Russia, like their Italian colleague, are both in their 20s and will compete in the US Open Semifinals for the first time. 

     

    For them, like for Berrettini, having made it this far is already a huge accomplishment. And who knows, they may not be done surprising us just yet.

     

  • Facts & Stories

    Jump Start Your Day With Run 5.30 NYC

    We all know exercise is good for us and, when done regularly, a little movement can go a long way. But many of us also lead full, busy lives: we spend most of our days working and running errands and it often feels like we barely have enough time to be with our family and loved ones. We would love to be active, we just don’t have the time. Or at least, that’s what we tell ourselves, but it doesn’t have to be true.

     

    Sergio Bezzanti, a graphic designer from Modena and nutritionist Sabrina Severi co-founded Run 5.30 in 2009 with the desire to prove that it is indeed possible to get your daily steps in without compromising family or work time, and to have a great time doing it. 

     

    Run 5.30 is a non-competitive 5k run - or walk, skip, jog, whatever you want it to be - that takes place in a set city at 5:30am before a business day and culminates with a healthy breakfast. Not only are you doing your body a favor by being more active, you also have the chance to explore your city in a brand new light, all without taking any time away from your daily schedule. 

     

    Sure, waking up that early to go on a run or walk sounds unpleasant to some, downright impossible to others but, as Sergio points out, it’s mostly a mental barrier, “many people are skeptical at first,” he says, “they come because they got dragged by their partner or colleague, but once they do it they realise, ‘oh, okay, this is good, I can do this.’” 

     

    The ultimate goal of the Run 5.30 project, which has organized over 100 runs in cities across Italy (and one in Brighton, UK) since 2009, is to get participants to realize that this is something they can actually do, and hopefully have them continue doing it on their own or with friends beyond this fun yearly event.

     

    And, little by little, this message is spreading and Run 5.30 is growing. What started with just a few hundred people showing up to the first event held in Mantua in 2009, now attracts over 30,000 across ten major cities in Italy including Milan, Venice, and Palermo. One run was also held in Brighton, UK this past July, and now the project landed in none other than New York City. 

     

    Unsurprisingly, New Yorkers were keen to adhere to this new initiative and almost all the 500 spots for Friday’s run, which will take place at Pier 25 on Hudson River Park, were quickly filled up. The 5.30 philosophy fits in perfectly within such an active, bustling, and health-conscious city. 

     

    If this piqued your interest, you might still be in time to register for the run, check out the Run 5.30 NYC website for more info. 

     

    In any case, we suggest you keep 5.30 on your radar, something tells us you’ll be hearing from them again soon.

     

  • Facts & Stories

    Italy to Get a New PD M5S Government

    Two weeks ago, the Italian government collapsed, following former deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini’s announcement that he was backing out, which in turn caused Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to give his resignation on August 20. 

    Salvini, whom polls show to be rising in popularity across the country, was likely hoping that the government collapse would lead to fresh parliamentary elections. And this was indeed a possibility. 

    However, to the surprise of many, the Democratic Party and Movimento 5 Stelle - the party who was co-ruling the country alongside Salvini’s Lega - agreed to form a coalition, in which they were also joined by Liberi e Uguali (LeU), a relatively small left-wing party. Together, these three parties hold the majority in parliament, which means that Italy should avoid having to go through a brand new election for now.

    Today, Conte presented the new government’s program and the list of ministers to President Sergio Mattarella, who approved it. The list features 21 ministers: 9 from the Democratic Party, 10 from Movimento 5 Stelle, and one non-partisan expert, Luciana Lamorgese, who will head the very sensitive Home Affairs Ministry after having served as a senior official there. She is one of 7 women on the list. 

    Former Deputy Prime-Minister Luigi Di Maio will serve as Minister of Foreign Affairs, while the Democrat Roberto Gualtieri who now chairs the European Parliament’s Economic Affairs Commission, will be the new Economy Minister

    Stefano Patuanelli, who was the Chair of the M5S Parliamentary Group at the Senate, will head the Ministry of Economic Development, Nunzia Catalfo (M5S), who contributed to the drafting of the controversial “Reddito di Cittadinanza,” will be in charge of the Labor Ministry.

    Alfonso Bonafede will remain at the head of the Justice Ministry and Sergio Costa will stay at the Environment Ministry. Dario Franceschini (PD) who previously served as Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism from 2014 to 2018 will resume his role. 

    The new Minister of Defense will be the Democratic Party’s Lorenzo Guerini, Paola De Micheli (PD) will be the Minister of Infrastructure, Teresa Bellanova (PD) the Minister of Agricultural Policies, Lorenzo Fioramonti (M5S) the Minister of Education.

    The one representative of LeU, Roberto Speranza will head the Ministry of Health and M5S’s Federico D'Inca (M5S) will be in charge of relations with the Parliament. 

    The other ministers will be: Paola Pisano at Innovation, Fabiana Dadone at Public Administration, Francesco Boccia at Regional Affairs, Vincenzo Spadafora at Sport and Youth Affairs, Elena Bonetti at Equal Opportunities, Enzo Amendola at European Affairs, and Giuseppe Provenzano at the Ministry for the South.

    The new Government will be officially sworn in tomorrow at 10am Italian time, after which the Ministers will assume their newly appointed roles.

    The Cabinet will then also need to pass a confidence vote in both the Lower House and the Senate, which should take place early next week This normally shouldn’t be an issue since the PD, M5S, and LeU can count on the majority of MPs, but during such uncertain times, anything could happen. 

  • Art & Culture

    'Piranhas,' a Film About Coming of Age Amidst The Camorra

    The film, which won the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival and was shown in the United States for the first time during Open Roads New Italian Cinema at New York’s Film at Lincoln Center this past June, follows the story of a group of teenagers growing up in the Camorra ridden neighborhoods of Naples. 

     

    “The work began right here in New York,” Director Claudio Giovannesi tells us, where, two years ago, he met with Roberto Saviano, the author of the book from which the movie is inspired and the project began.

     

    Giovannesi believes that showing his film in American theatres is an important opportunity. “There is at the moment great cinema in Italy and in Europe in my opinion and it often doesn’t make it to the United States,” he notes. 

     

    But, as the reactions of critics and audiences often show, European and Italian films are greatly appreciated here. There is a demand for them. “Great American cinema, has always loved Italian cinema,” he claims, citing Martin Scorsese, whom he considers “one of the greatest auteurs there are” and who “knows the history of Italian cinema perhaps better than Italians” and is greatly influenced by it.

     

    In Italian, the title of both film and book is actually ‘La paranza dei bambini,’ which literally translates to ‘a gang of children.’ “But that’s not accurate,” Giovannesi comments, “because paranza is a boat, paranza is a dish of fried small fish, paranza is a group of kids, and paranza is an armed Camorra gang. So it’s impossible to translate it.” 

     

    The complexity of the title reflects that of the film itself. On the one hand it’s a coming of age story, about friendship, family, first loves, but it’s also a film about the loss of innocence, about  criminality and how it permeates every aspect of people’s lives. 

     

    On the one hand, the movie certainly gives Naples great visibility, displaying the breathtaking and complex beauty of its historical center, which as Giovannesi points out “is still popular,” meaning it is “a place where people live, work, and you encounter good people and bad people.” It is also shot entirely in Neapolitan dialect (and was shown with Italian subtitles in Italy) using non-professional actors themselves born and raised in the very neighborhoods of the film. 

     

    Shooting also took place on location and the production included locals, such as street vendors, in the project by giving them honest work: “the people from the neighborhood were hired by the production as drivers, as service operators, as extras. This was a way for us to be guests and not invaders,” Giovannesi says.    

     

    At the same time, the themes it addresses are universal and the problems faced by Naples are shared by “all the peripheries of the world,” an expression the director uses attributing it to Saviano. 

     

    “It’s not a film about Naples,” the director explains, “it’s a film set in Naples, but it’s a film that asks a question: what happens to teenagers, to the feelings of these teenagers, when they make a criminal choice, a criminal choice which is initially made unknowingly, like a game, but then becomes irreversible?”

    The film, distributed by Music Box, will be showing at Film at Lincoln Center. For more information, visit their website

  • Art & Culture

    Mount Vesuvius Told Through Digital Art

    The MAV, the Virtual Archeological Museum located in the Campanian town of Ercolano built on the ruins of Herculaneum, which was destroyed by the infamous 79 CE eruption of Mount Vesuvius, (the same one that obliterated Pompeii) inaugurated a new multimedia art exhibition. 

     

    Titled “Vesuvio in the Box” and curated by Luca Beatrice, the show features 22 works, a video series and a 60 square meter LED wall by Neapolitan artist Gennaro Regina. 

     

    In line with the MAV’s mission to give a multimedial approach to the history, lifestyle and habits of ancient Herculaneum, it tells the story of the volcano’s devastating eruption in an interactive way: visitors are led into the cube, an architectural structure onto which the videos are projected. 

     

    The president of the CIVES Foundation, which manages MAV, Luigi Vicinanza, noted that "Gennaro Regina is an extraordinary artist whose beautiful works combine very well with our Virtual Archaeological Museum's activities. He melds tradition with digital narration, the present and future together."

     

    Regina, who is represented by the Neapolitan gallery Voyage Pittoresque Factory, wanted to allow viewers to admire the Vesuvius in all its forms. He titled the installation “Rebirth” to express his view that “destruction by people, facts, and culture is the rebirth of a territory.” 

     

    He adds that this kind of rebirth, “due not as much to what happens in politics but to what people manage to do” is currently taking place in the region.

     

    "Investing in culture means transmitting the beauty of our history and our places to young people,” commented Ciro Buonajuto, the mayor of Ercolano, “and Gennaro Regina, with his artworks, helps us to move in this direction.”

     

    Vesuvio in a Box will be on view Monday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m until September 30, 2019. The exhibition is free and open to all.

     

  • Facts & Stories

    Mantuan Mostarda Conquers The World

    IN ITALIAN >>

    We are at the Fancy Food Show, one of the most important food fairs in the world, which takes place each year in New York’s Javits Center. Here, as you can imagine, Italy is always present, actually it’s one of the most represented nations. But we didn’t come here to talk about our most important brands, our intention was to unearth hidden gems, little-known excellencies that have yet to be discovered, find new stories to tell. And we did. We found stories of past traditions that are being rediscovered and reappropriated today.  

     

    One of these is the story of Paola Calciolari and her ‘mantuan mostarda.’

     

    “I was a pharmacist. I studied food chemistry, Parmigiano Reggiano production because my family produced it,” explains Paola, the founder of Le Tamerici, a preserves company specialized in the production of mostarda. “And I began to make mostarda. It’s a typical product of the area but there were no companies making it in Mantua.”

     

    At her table, are exhibited a variety of delicate glass jars, filled with different flavors of mostarda, jams, and wine jellies. We’d like to start sampling them right away but, first of all, we ask her to tell us exactly mantuan mostarda is. 

     

    “Mantuan mostarda is candied fruit with mustard essence,” Paola answers promptly. Small slices of fruit are mixed with sugar and water and left to candy for several days until “an osmotic process occurs during which the fruit absorbs the sugar and releases the water.” Then the natural mustard essence is added, giving the product its distinctive spicy taste. 

     

    “This is the mostarda that they served at court banquets during the time of the Gonzaga. (an important Italian princely family that ruled Mantua for centuries, ed.) So it’s a product of the Renaissance, a product of history, it was used to make tortelli,” the expert explains.

     

    On that note, we ask her how mostarda is used.

     

    “Cheese is the simplest pairing, but it was actually born as an accompaniment to bollito.” (a way of cooking meat, similar to stews, ed.)

     

    Now it’s no longer bollito, she tells us, but all meats. Paola cites various examples, from duck breast, to grilled steak, to sausage, so other types of meat but especially other cooking methods. “Porchetta would pair wonderfully with the prune one, for example.”

     

    And here in the United States, you can very well serve it with your Thanksgiving turkey. “I would put the green tomato mostarda or this pear and rosemary jam, it’s marvelous on white meat. I even put this one on gourmet pizza.”

     

    It isn’t bad by itself either. 

     

    As for deserts, Paola recommends pairing it with semifreddi “because the spiciness is softened by the cold, but the taste remains. I like the pear mostarda with chocolate gelato.”

     

    Le Tamerici carries different lines of products: one consisting of only mostarde, one of wine jellies (lambrusco, prosecco, vino passito from Sicily), one of balsamic vinegar jams which can be cherry, amarena, or strawberry flavored. Then there are various pectine-free jams, such as the blood orange one. “It’s a product that we work one month per year, when this type of orange is in season.” Paola tells us as she offers us a sample. 

     

    “Our philosophy is to look for whoever specializes in making the specific products of their territory.” For example, for their apple jam, they rely on a producer who only deals in campanine apples, a variety of small wild apples from Mantua. For other products, such as their red onion jam, they look for a producer in the area that specializes in making them, in this case in Tropea, Calabria.  

     

    The former pharmacist dived into this field because, despite it being a historical product typical of the area, nobody was producing mostarda in Mantova, if not at home. “My grandmother made mostarda. I loved cheese and I immediately thought of pairing mostarda with cheese, which was a novelty then.”

     

    In 1991, she created le Tamerici, which was born as a cultural association and cooking school, to then become an artisanal scale production lab and finally a company. In 1996, she attends her first Salone del Gusto in Turin (an important international food fair, ed.) bringing with her five products with five cheese pairings. This immediately caught the attention of journalists: “They wanted to understand why.” Now it seems natural, but at the time people were surprised by it, she explains.

     

    “When I first started coming to the United States, 20 years ago,” she recalls, “nobody was doing it.” Now, the US are an important market for the company, as are Spain, Germany, and even Australia. A perfect example of how quality Italian products, even those that are niche, or maybe precisely thanks to their specificity and uniqueness, manage to pave their way and carve out their space in the global market. 

     

  • Fatti e Storie

    La mostarda mantovana conquista il mondo

    IN ENGLISH >>

     

    Siamo sempre al Fancy Food Show, una delle più importanti fiere agroalimentari al mondo che si svolge ogni anno allo Javits Center di New York. Qui ovviamente l’Italia non manca mai, anzi è tra le nazioni più rappresentate. E noi, anche questa volta, non siamo accontentati della conferma dei nostri brand più importanti, siamo andati alla ricerca di novità, eccellenze poco conosciute da scoprire, di storie da raccontare. E ne abbiamo trovate. Storie che riscoprono e rendono spesso attuale un passato di grande tradizione.

     

    Una di queste è la storia di Paola Calciolari e delle sue mostarde mantovane. 

     

    “Facevo la farmacista. Ho preso una laurea in chimica degli alimenti, produzione del Parmigiano Reggiano perché la mia famiglia lo produceva”, ci spiega Paola, fondatrice di Le Tamerici, un’azienda di conserve alimentari di qualità in provincia di Mantova, specializzata nelle produzione di mostarde. “E mi sono messa a fare mostarda, è un prodotto tipico del territorio, ma non esistevano a Mantova aziende strutturate che lo producevano.”

     

    Davanti a lei, sul suo banco, sono esposti diversi barattoli pieni delle sue mostarde ai vari gusti. Verrebbe voglia di iniziare a provarle tutte ma, innanzitutto, ci facciamo dire esattemente cos’e la mostarda.

     

    “La mostarda mantovana è frutta candita con essenza di senape.” risponde prontamente Paola. Fettine di frutta vengono messe in una zuppa di acqua e zucchero, dopodiché avviene “un processo osmotico in cui la frutta si arricchisce di zucchero e rilascia l’acqua.” Poi, a fine canditura, viene aggiunta l’essenza di senape naturale che da il piccante a questo prodotto.

     

    “Di questa mostarda se ne parlava gia nei banchetti di corte al tempo dei Gonzaga. Quindi è un prodotto del Rinascimento, della storia, un prodotto che si usava per fare i tortelli.” Ci racconta l’esperta.

     

    A proposito, le domandiamo, come si usa la mostarda? 

     

    “Il formaggio è l’abbinamento più semplice, ma in realtà nasce come prodotto che viene usato con il bollito.”

     

    Ora non è piu bollito, ci spiega, ma tutto quello che è carne. Paola cita vari esempi, dal petto d’anatra, alla carne alla brace, fino alla salsiccia, quindi anche altre carni ma soprattutto altri tipi di cotture. “Una porchetta con la prugna ci sta benissimo, ad esempio.”

     

    E qui negli Stati Uniti si può usare benissimo insieme al tacchino di Thanksgiving. “Io ci metterei o il pomodoro verde o questa confettura di pere con rosmarino, con le carni bianche è meravigliosa. Poi questa l’ho messa anche su delle pizze gourmet.” 

     

    Anche da sola non è niente male.

     

    Per quanto riguarda i dolci, Paola consiglia di abbinarle ai semifreddi “perché il piccante viene smorzato dal freddo, ma rimane ne rimane il gusto. A me piace la mostarda di pera con il gelato al cioccolato.”

     

    Le Tamerici propone diverse linee di prodotti: una di solo mostarde, una di gelatine di vino (lambrusco, prosecco, vino passito di sicilia), una di confetture con aceto balsamico, che possono essere di ciliegia, amarena o fragola. Poi ci sono le varie confetture senza pectina, ad esempio, quella di arance rosse. “È un prodotto che lavoriamo un mese all’anno quando è disponibile questa tipologia di arancia.” ci spiega Paola mentro l’assaggiamo. 

     

    “La nostra filosofia è cercare chi è specializzato nel fare specifici prodotti nel territorio.” Ad esempio, per la confettura di mele, vanno da un produttore che fa solo mele campanine, piccole mele selvatiche di Mantova. Per altri prodotti, come la confettura alle cipolle rosse, vanno a cercare un produttore dove c’e la specialità, in questo caso, a Tropea.

     

    L’ex-farmacista si è lanciata in questo campo perché, nonostante si tratti di un prodotto storico, tipico della zona, a Mantova nessuno produceva mostarde, se non in casa. “Mia nonna preparava mostarde. Io ero appassionata di formaggi e ho pensato subito di fare l’abbinamento della mostarda col formaggio, cosa che era una novità.”

     

    Nel 1991 fonda le Tamerici, che nasce come associazione culturale e scuola di cucina e diventa in seguito un laboratorio di produzione in scala artigianale ed in fine un’azienda agricola. Nel 1996, partecipa al suo primo Salone del Gusto di Torino portando cinque prodotti con cinque abbinamenti di formaggio e suscitando l’attenzione di vari giornalisti. “Volevano capire il perché di questa cosa.” Adesso sembra naturale, ma all’epoca questo abbinamento stupiva, spiega.

     

    “Quando sono arrivata negli Stati Uniti 20 anni fa”, ricorda Paola “nessuno qui faceva questo.” Ora gli Stati Uniti sono un mercato importante per l’azienda, cosi come la Spagna, la Germania ed anche l’Australia. Un esempio di come le eccellenze italiane, anche se di nicchia, o forse proprio grazie alla loro specificita; e particolarità, riescono a farsi strada e a trovare il loro posto sul mercato internazionale. 

  • Facts & Stories

    Innovation, Sustainability, Family, and...Buffalo Cheese

    IN ITALIANO >>

    “The business was purchased by grandpa, who died shortly after however, so it was taken over by my grandma, Anna Maria, a great woman and a hard worker,” the young Roberta, who actively and with great determination and competence participates in the activities of Quattro Portoni, her family’s business located near Bergamo, tells us enthusiastically. 

     

    We are yet again struck by the precision, passion, and especially the vision with which the family heirs of small Italian businesses discuss their work abroad. She is surrounded by her family, united by a passion for their work that cannot go unnoticed. These are the stories we love to tell. 

     

    So, Roberta starts telling us about her grandmother.

     

    You said she took over the company?

     

    Roberta: Yes, she handled it along with another business. 

     

    Grandpa dealt in agricultural machinery, so they had an agricultural business in this sense. They rented their fields and the animals were taken care of by sharecroppers. 

    Afterwards, my grandfather had an accident at work while he was packing hay and he died.

    And my grandmother, at 36, was left alone to take care of four sons, the eldest of which was 11 and the youngest 5. 

    When did this happen?

    Roberta: Grampa died in 1968. And grandma went on to manage the business, initially with the agricultural machinery and then also raising the animals. She also founded a packaging company, which now handles the packaging of our products. This until my dad and his second brother, who was a veterinarian, took on the farm and started raising frisone cows up until 2000.  

    During that time, our company was in full expansion but in Italy there was the problem of milk quotas. We produced a lot of milk and had to rent out our milk quotas to others, until the situation became unsustainable because we risked having to throw away some of our milk. 

    So, my dad and uncle looked at each other and thought, what animal could fit in our stables and doesn’t face the milk quota problem?

    They thought of bufale. (Italian Mediterranean Buffalo, ed.)

    Di necessità virtu, as we say.

    Roberta: Exactly. But we took a risk because the bufale weren’t well-known in the North of the country then. Tendentially, these animals are typical of Southern Italy. 

    So they tried with 40 animals at first. And they found that the bufale have character. If they don’t trust you or if they’re nervous, they have the ability to hold their milk. So you milk them but nothing comes out! They have to be in a favorable, relaxed environment.

    They saw that things were going well so they decided to sell all the cows, they sold all the milk quotas and in 2003 we switched over completely. We got our first big batch of bufale from Latina, near Rome. In 2005, we started producing cheese, one year later we inaugurated our cheese factory. And from there our adventure began.

    Does the whole family work for the company?

    Roberta: My sister (points) is a pediatrician so she followed her own path. I’m about to receive my law degree and the idea is to become a corporate lawyer for the company. 

    But we’ve all lived through this adventure. At the beginning we didn’t know what we were doing. We all still remember the day when he (points at her father) brought the prototype of the first cheese he handmade himself: a total disaster. 

    But from there things kept getting better and there have been many fulfilling moments. There have also been a lot of prizes, which have allowed us to make ourselves known. Also because my dad and my uncle were the first to ever think of turning buffalo milk into a cheese that wasn’t fresh, but aged. Because there’s always been buffalo mozzarella, or ricotta, or scamorza, but nobody had ever thought of aged cheese. 

    So, since the local tradition was that of gorgonzola, taleggio, quartirolo lombardo, they decided, ok let’s make those but using 100% buffalo milk. Now, some others have started making something with buffalo milk, they usually mix it with cow’s milk. 

    Where do you sell it? How is your product distributed?

    Roberta: I think that the United States are our first client. (she turns to the others)

    Bruno: Yes, the United States are very important.

    Roberta: But also Europe!

    Bruno: (nods) France, Switzerland…

    You started exporting right away.

    Bruno: Well, exporting came naturally. We began getting our name out there through our presence at fairs such as this one. 

    We had our inauguration, there were plenty of people. We were also lucky that the event resonated well, television stations came, they wanted to see what we were up to. And this gave us some confidence so I suggested we participate in an international fair like Tutto Food in Milan. And there we met Forever Cheese

    During our very first fair, we met what remains to this day our most important client. It’s a channel we haven’t abandoned since. 

    So how do you envision the company’s future?

    Roberta: I see growth. Growth because we have on our side the advantage of having been the first. The market is certainly expanding and there are those interested in making aged buffalo milk products but we have now…

    Bruno: 12 years.

    Roberta: 12 years of skills and experience, which allow us to anticipate how the milk will behave, what the market’s interests will be, where people look to, what works best.

    Bruno: The key is that we control the entire production line, right from the animals. Our objective of expanding cheese production will also be an expansion of the farm. The two go hand in hand. We’re not going to become an industrial cheese factory, we will stay true to ourselves. And our model is hard to replicate, it takes years of investments, you have to be an animal farmer, and you can’t do that in a day, it takes years and lots of work.

    Can you describe the place you work at, your company? Take us with you...

    Roberta: So, we walk into a large gravel courtyard and on our right we have the old farmer’s home, where the sharecroppers lived and managed my grandparents’ company. 

    Directly across from the entrance are the old stables built by Nonna Anna and all the old part of the stables continue on in front of us towards the left. To the left are the silos filled with feed for the animals. Then, beyond the courtyards, continuing towards the right you’ll find the cheese factory that they built (points to her father) and beyond that the new stables, which were built according to animal welfare indications, so it’s extremely tall to allow for the air to flow properly. 

    Inside are the cisterns filled with liquid animal waste. We’ve started following a path of sustainability so we are part of a consortium that produces sustainable energy, biogas. So we give the liquid waste, it is then returned to us nitrate-free and this allows us to engage in a circular economy: we reutilize the cleaned waste to fertilize the fields, which produce forage for the bufale, which produce milk, which we turn into cheese, all within the range of a few kilometers. 

    We stand with them, with this passion that many of these companies share in Italy. Precious realities and strongholds of the past and especially the future of our economy. 

  • Fatti e Storie

    Innovazione, sostenibilità e.... famiglia. Grazie bufale!

    IN ENGLISH >>

     

    “L’azienda era stata comprata dal nonno, che però è morto poco dopo, quindi è stata presa in mano dalla nonna, Anna Maria, una grande signora, una gran lavoratrice,” ci racconta con entusiasmo la giovanissima Roberta, che prende parte attivamente, con determinazione e compentenza ai successi dell'azienda di familglia Quattro Portoni di Cologno al Serio, nel Bergamasco.

    Ancora una volta ci colpisce la precisione, passione e soprattutto visione con cui gli eredi delle famiglie delle piccole e medie imprese italiane presentano il proprio lavoro all'estero. Intorno a lei tutta la famiglia, in una abbraccio di passione per il proprio lavoro che non può passare inosservato. E noi amiamo raccontare queste storie.

    Così quindi Roberta ci racconta della nonna.

    E la seguiva lei?

    Roberta: Si, insieme ad un’altra attivita. 

    Il nonno commerciava in macchine agricole, perciò loro avevano un’azienda agricola in questo senso. Avevano affittato la coltivazione dei campi e facevano seguire il bestiame ai mezzadri.

    Dopo di che, mio nonno ha avuto un’incidente sul lavoro, imballando il fieno, ed è morto.

    E mia nonna è rimasta a 36 anni, vedova con quattro figli dei quali il più grande aveva 11 anni e il più piccolo ne aveva 5.

    Questo quando? 

    Roberta: Il nonno è morto nel 68. E la nonna ha continuato a gestire lei, prima a commerciare in macchine agricole e poi con l’allevamento. Ha fondato anche un’altra azienda di packaging che adesso segue anche il packaging dei nostri prodotti. Finché mio papa e il suo secondo fratello, che si è laureato in veterinaria, hanno preso in mano l’allevamento e si sono messi ad allevare vacche frisone fino al 2000.

    In quel periodo, la nostra azienda era in espansione ma in italia c’era il problema delle quote latte, perciò noi producevamo tantissimo latte e dovevamo affittare le quote latte ad altri. Fin a quando la cosa è diventata insostenibile perché rischiavamo di dover buttare via il latte.

    Al che, mio papà e mio zio si son guardati e han detto quale animale ci sta bene, è della grandezza giusta per queste stalle e non incontra il problema delle quote latte?

    Hanno pensato alle bufale.

    Di necessita' virtu.

    Roberta: Di necessità virtu. Ma all’inizio è stata una scommessa perché la bufala non era molto conosciuta al nord. Tendenzialmente sono animali tipici del sud italia, è sempre stata fatta la mozzarella di bufala, la ricotta, ma al nord era poco conosciuta.

    Allora hanno provato con 40 capi all’inizio. Hanno scoperto tra l’altro che le bufale hanno carattere, cioè se non si fidano, se sono agitate, hanno la capacità di trattenere il latte. Perciò tu le mungi e non esce nulla. Devono trovarsi in un ambiente favorevole, rilassato. 

    Hanno visto che andava bene e quindi hanno deciso di vendere tutte le vacche, hanno venduto tutte le quote latte e nel 2003 abbiamo trasformato completamente tutto l’allevamento. Abbiamo preso la prima grande parte di bufale a Latina. Nel 2005, abbiamo iniziato a fare caseificazione, un anno dopo abbiamo inaugurato il caseificio. E da li è iniziata l’avventura.

    Lavora tutta la famiglia?

    Roberta: Mia sorella (indica) è pediatra quindi lei ha preso la sua strada. Io mi sto per laureare in giurisprudenza e poi l’idea è quella di diventare giurista d’impresa per l’azienda agricola.

    Però abbiamo vissuto tutti quest’avventura. All’inizio non sapevamo niente. Ci ricordiamo ancora tutti del giorno quando lui (indica il padre) ha portato il prototipo del primo formaggio fatto a mano da lui: un disastro totale. 

    Pero poi è andata sempre meglio e le soddisfazioni sono state tantissime. I premi ricevuti sono stati tanti e ci hanno anche permesso di farci conoscere. Anche perché sono stati, lui e lo zio, i primi a pensare di trasformare il latte di bufala in formaggio non fresco ma stagionato, perché la mozzarella di bufala è sempre esistita, così come la ricotta o la scamorza affumicata, ma mai nessuno aveva pensato ad un formaggio stagionato. 

    Allora visto che la tradizione locale era quella di gorgonzola, taleggi, quartiroli lombardi, hanno detto, va bene facciamo così ma con il latte di bufala al 100%. Qualcun’altro adesso ha iniziato a fare qualcosa con il latte di bufala, alcuni lo mischiano con il latte vaccino.

    Dove lo vendete? Com’è distribuito il vostro prodotto?

    Roberta: Penso gli Stati Uniti sono il nostro primo cliente (si gira verso gli altri)

    Bruno: Si, gli Stati Uniti sono importantissimi.

    Roberta: Ma anche tutta l’Europa!

    Bruno: (annuisce) La Francia, Svizzera...

     

    Avete puntato subito all’esportazione?

    Bruno: Mah, e’ venuta spontaneamente l’esportazione. Noi abbiamo cominciato a farci conoscere grazie alla presenza alle fiere come questa.

    Abbiamo fatto la nostra inaugurazione, c’è stata parecchia gente, abbiamo avuto anche la fortuna che ha avuto un certo echo, sono arrivate anche delle televisioni a vedere cosa stavamo combinando. E questo ci ha dato un po’ di fiducia in noi stessi per cui alla fine ho proposto di partecipare ad una fiera di carattere internazionale come Tutto Food a Milano. E abbiamo incontrato, per esempio, Forever Cheese

    Durante la nostra prima partecipazione ad una fiera, abbiamo conosciuto quello che è tutt’ora il nostro cliente più importante. È stato un tramite che non abbiamo più abbandonato.

    Qual’è quindi il futuro dell’azienda?

    Roberta: Di crescita. Di crescita perché abbiamo dalla nostra parte il vantaggio di essere stati i primi. Sicuramente il mercato è in espansione e c’è chi è interessato ad iniziare a fare prodotti di bufala stagionati ma dalla nostra abbiamo un know how ormai di…

    Bruno: Di 12 anni.

    Roberta: Di 12 anni, che ci permette di prevedere come si può comportare il latte, che cosa sono gli interessi del mercato, dove si rivolge la gente, che cosa funziona di più.

    Bruno: Abbiamo una chiave di volta che è il fatto che noi abbiamo controllo di tutta la filiera, abbiamo l’allevamento di bufala. E il nostro obiettivo di espansione nel formaggio, sarà un’espansione nell’allevamento degli animali. Si va di pari passo. Non ci trasformiamo in un industria di formaggi, restiamo noi. Ed è difficile replicarlo, ci vogliono anni di investimenti, bisogna essere allevatori, uno non s’inventa allevatore, lo si può diventare con gli anni, con la fatica. 

    Mi descrivete il posto dove lavorate. La vostra azienda? Insomma portateci con voi....

    Roberta: Allora, entriamo in un grande cortile di ghiaia e troviamo sulla nostra destra quella che era l’antica casa dei contadini dove al tempo i mezzadri vivevano e gestivano quella che era l’azienda agricola del nonno e la nonna. 

    Esattamente di fronte all’ingresso, c’è la vecchia stalla che ha costruito la nonna Anna e tutta la parte vecchia della stalla si sviluppa davanti a noi verso sinistra. A sinistra, ci sono i silos del mangime per il bestiame. Poi, oltre il cortile, proseguendo verso destra c’è il caseificio che hanno costruito loro (indica il padre) e oltre al caseificio c’è tutta la stalla nuova che è stata progettata secondo i dettami del benessere animale quindi e’ estremamente alta per permettere un aerazione. 

    Dentro invece ci sono delle cisterne del liquame. Abbiamo iniziato a percorrere una strada di eco sostenibilità perciò facciamo parte di un consorzio che produce energia eco sostenibile, biogas. Forniamo il liquame, ci viene riconsegnato privo di nitrati e questo ci permette di far parte di un’economia circolare: riutilizziamo il liquame pulito e con questo fertilizziamo i campi con cui produciamo foraggio per le bufale, che producono latte, che viene trasformato in formaggio, tutto lì nell’arco di pochi chilometri. 

    Siamo con loro, con la passione che è nelle mani di tante aziende così in Italia. Un vero patrimonio per l'economia.

     

    Per saperen di piu'  http://www.quattroportoni.it/

  • Art & Culture

    Celebrating Verdi and Italian Opera in Parma, Busseto, and Beyond

    Giuseppe Verdi, perhaps the most well-known Italian Opera composer of all time, was born in 1813 in Busseto, in the province of Parma. And it's in those two charming northern Italian towns that the annual Festival Verdi will be taking place from September 26 to October 20, 2019, under the direction of Anna Maria Meo, the Director of Parma’s Teatro Regio, who recently toured the US to promote the event, stopping in New York, where she spoke at NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimo. 

     

    On this occasion, we asked her to tell us about the Festival, its history, mission, its program, as well as about the Teatro Regio and her work there, and more generally about Verdi, Opera and how to promote it in today's world. We also spoke with Francesca Campagna, the Executive Director of the New York-based International Friends of Festival Verdi, an initiative aimed at promoting the festival in the United States and supporting its activities by acting as a bridge between two realities: Parma and New York.

     

    ANNA MARIA MEO - GENERAL DIRECTOR OF THE TEATRO REGIO IN PARMA

    When and how was the Festival Verdi born? With what aim?

    The first big celebration of Verdi took place in 1913, a hundred years from his birth. It was a double celebration which took place in Parma under the direction of Cleofonte Campanini, and in Busseto with the legendary Toscanini. In 1951, 50 years from his death, the biggest Verdi interpreters of the time met in Parma. 

    Then, in 1989, Festival Verdi was born: an initiative that, within the context of a productive union between the public and private sector, offered a month filled with operas, concerts, and other prestigious events. 

    In 2001, a hundred years from his death, the Festival Verdi started up again (it was interrupted for some years, ed.) to celebrate the Maestro and offer the unique occasion to listen to his music in his land while enjoying its many excellencies in the fields of art, landscape, and gastronomy. 

    Operas, concerts, new adaptations in different theatres, special commissions, debuts, innovative performances using original language and profound text analysis, offerings for children and young people, where Verdi’s music meets contemporary languages, constant research and the promotion of new performance spaces: all this and much more makes up Festival Verdi today, the only Festival in the world entirely dedicated to the Maestro.

    How has the Festival evolved over the course of the years? 

    We are now at the 19th edition. After some years of interrupted programming, since 2016, the Verdi Festival has assumed a well-defined structure which features concerts, recitals, and encounters centered around four operatic productions: two at the Teatro Regio, one at Busseto’s Teatro Verdi and one in a special location amongst the many that this region can offer. After having brought Opera back to the marvelous Teatro Farnese, this year we will revive the Medieval Church of San Francesco del Prato, which has been closed to the public for many years and is now being restored. 

    A defined and constant structure is fundamental to the creation of the Festival’s identity and thanks also to well-planned programming and articulated international promotion, we have seen in recent years, record-breaking income and attendance far beyond our most optimistic expectations. 

    How has Festival Verdi impacted the Teatro Regio and vice versa?

    Festival Verdi is the time of highest productivity and media exposure for the Teatro Regio. A moment towards which work all year long, in parallel with our regular programming and at least two years ahead: its impact on the structure is therefore decidedly important, I would say overwhelming. 

    On the other hand, the Verdi Festival wouldn’t exist without the Teatro Regio: only a theatre with such a strong identity built on the tradition and cultural wealth of the unique territory that gave birth to Verdi himself could produce an international festival dedicated to the Maestro.

     

    Can you tell us about Verdi Off?

    Verdi Off, a series of free collateral events which take place around the Festival, was born 4 years ago following an idea by Barbara Minghetti, who wanted to encourage and share a festive atmosphere with all those who live in and are visiting the land of the Maestro during the time of the Festival. 

    Shows, concerts, exhibitions, installations, dj sets, encounters, films, special projects become an occasion to inhabit and live the city’s most beautiful sites in the context of Verdi’s music, including courtyards, streets, piazzas, private homes. 

    Special attention is also given to those who cannot attend these spaces, such as detainees and the patients of the children’s hospital, with whom Verdi Off engages through dedicated shows.

    So it’s a rich and diverse program, involving a larger and wider public each year, which has now become an intrinsic part of the Festival and of the town.    

     

    Who is your audience generally made up of? Is it mostly local, international, mixed?

    The Festival’s audience is heterogeneous and data analysis from the previous edition witnessed once more the international reach of the Festival and its ever-growing appeal towards visitors coming from all 5 continents, with two thirds of extraterritorial presences. In 2018, compared to the previous year, Parma welcomed spectators from Ethiopia, Bulgaria, Latvia, Ukraine, Romania, Denmark, and Portugal. So, I would say that the Festival is deeply rooted in the territory but has a decidedly international reach. 

     

    Do you see many people - both audience members and performers - return to the Festival from one edition to the next?

    I can proudly answer that almost every time, those who experience Festival Verdi return the following year. This is true both for the audience - who for the most part have a renewable membership - and for national and international critics and journalists. Artists as well are satisfied with their experience, as we do everything we can to take care of them during their time at the Theatre, so they too are happy to come back!

     

    Why is the music of Verdi important today?

    Like every valuable work of art, I believe that Verdi’s music is important and always topical because it speaks of us. It expresses, through the high language of music, universal and transversal feelings and values, shared across any epoch or latitude: it speaks of love, jealousy, identity, friendship, internal and interpersonal conflicts, it speaks of mankind and does so using beauty, a universal and immortal form of beauty. From this comes its importance and eternal actuality. 

     

    Do you find it challenging to promote this type of music, especially to younger audiences?

    It’s challenging in that it requires a dedicated effort to make Opera known to younger generations and help them go beyond the preconception that it’s only for old people. The Teatro Regio was a pioneer on the theme of education and 20 years ago it launched “Imparalopera”, a format which allowed thousands of students to learn about lyrical music. 

    Since 2015, the Theatre organizes RegioYoung, a full season dedicated to schools and families, featuring each year a dense program of shows and a new opera for children commissioned to a different composer each time. The goal is to introduce the world of Opera and of the Theatre to the public of tomorrow: a challenge in which we strongly believe and we hope to successfully address.
     

    What are your projects, your dreams for the future of the Festival and of the Theatre?

    There are many projects, some very ambitious and already under way. All go in the direction of consolidating the great work that we have been tenaciously carrying out over the years, with the support of all the workers at Teatro Regio and all the local institutions and businesses that help sustain us. 

    So, towards consolidating the prestige of Festival Verdi, its record-breaking attendance numbers and income flows, its international reach, its dense network of collaborations with local realities, and the Theatre’s year-round programming, which is divided into Opera, Concert, Dance and School season. 

    There is a lot of work but it doesn’t scare us!

    FRANCESCA CAMPAGNA - EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR INTERNATIONAL FRIENDS OF FESTIVAL VERDI

    When and how was International Friends of Festival Verdi founded?

    The project was launched during the 2017 edition of the Festival. On that occasion, a group of American patrons went to Parma for 5 days during the Festival: they explored the beautiful territory, tasted local delicacies, and at night attended the Verdi Festival shows. In early 2018, Anna Maria Meo contacted me to start a collaboration with the intent of creating a stable point of reference in the United States based in New York.

    What is the goal behind this initiative?

    It’s a non-profit organization with the goal of promoting Festival Verdi - which is truly one of a kind - by creating a group of members interested in sustaining the Festival through their participation in it and their donations, which are 100% tax deductible. The funds we raise are then re-invested both in the activities carried out in the United States and in the programming of the Festival in Parma.

    The next step will be to raise funds specifically for a fellowship program at the Accademia Verdiana. The program takes place each year and consists of an 8-month intensive formative course for 12 young singers selected from all over the world.

    In the last few years, the Festival has reached such remarkable artistic standards that it has garnered international attention. Friends of Verdi addresses Opera aficionados but also non-experts who are generally interested in Italy and the art of making Opera. Thus, American associations and theatres also see in Friends of Verdi an occasion for contact, to gain knowledge and enrich their offering. It’s not easy to come by the opportunity to have the unique experience to become a member of IFFV (International Friends of Festival Verdi) or for a theatre to have the chance to produce an original show for the Festival.

     

    Why is it important to promote the music of Verdi in the US and in general outside of Italy?

    The music of Giuseppe Verdi is admired across the world, with Americans there is a very special bond. From the very beginning, I noticed a profound interest from all those I mentioned the project to. Exporting and promoting in a contemporary key the work of the composer from Bussetto is a great challenge for me and a huge honor. 

    Why did you decide to set up a base here in New York?

    The decision to have a link here in New York was made in Parma, following the vision of the Teatro Regio, which, under the direction of Anna Maria Meo, has been undertaking a strong international push. New York is one of the most important cultural hubs in the world and it feels natural to start setting the foundations for a simple but innovative project here. 

    We plan on developing ideas and initiatives that come from uniting a professional experience in the world of Opera with life in New York.

     

    The organization is described as "a bridge with the Teatro Regio in Parma." How do you bring Parma to New York and vice versa?

    I believe projects have to be conceptualized and built by imagining their implementation based on the countries of reference. In this case, it’s very important to create a fusion that benefits two places as different as Parma and New York. To find a common starting point to build the bridge, initiate the dialog. In this case, it’s the love for Opera, for Giuseppe Verdi, and for the divulgation of music but also of the territory. It’s an exchange in which both Parma and New York contribute their best. 

    What has the response been like so far? What kind of people have been participating?

    We’ve encountered great interest and participation from both private individuals and organizations, such as theatres. And it’s growing. 

    Sure, there’s a lot of work to be done, and we have to find the right interlocutors, or rather friends, that will act as the project’s ambassadors with their friends and colleagues.

    For now, the two annual events (April 2018 and June 2019) and other small private events have gone very well...especially considering how in New York everyone is always so busy!

     

    Have you found American audiences to be different from Italian ones? If so, in what way?

    Absolutely, audiences and habits are very different from country to country. One thing that strikes me about American audiences is their generosity, which makes them want to be a part of the cultural project. So, for example, buying a very expensive ticket or making a donation are completely normal things here. In Italy, culture is considered an exclusively public service so there are few people who would even consider active participation through volunteership or philanthropy. 

     

    How do you envision the future of the organization? Can you tell us about some upcoming initiatives you have in store for your members?

    The next highly anticipated event is the 2019 edition of the Festival in Parma, which some American patrons and members of the IFFV will attend. We offer various types of exclusive tours, the hottest weekends will be October 4-7 and October 10-14. 

    Meanwhile, in New York, on top of promoting those events, we will continue to promote International Friends and its divulgation in the US through various collaborations with universities and associations. 

    I would also like to create a special project for the 2020 edition of the Festival to take place in parallel with the initiatives for Parma 2020 Capital of Culture. 

    My dream is to one day realize a special edition of the Festival here in the United States.

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