Cheese Tasting On a Small Farm in Tuscany

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Last week, I spent a very cool morning in an area of Tuscany that I didn’t know existed (nor did most of the Italians I asked) called Lamporecchio. I toured a tiny farm property (located at the top of a steep winding hill with no visible number nor any indication that there might be a home down the unmarked dirt road) and tasted cheeses with local farmer and cheese-maker, Francesco of I Due Falchetti.

Francesco owns a total of 11 cows (though there are two new babies on the farm currently-one of which he and his family will be eating and therefore he refuses to name). Seven Red Cows and four Grey Alpine cows. According to Francesco, the milk from the Alpine cows is a bit thicker and stronger in flavor than the red and white cows thanks to their hearty stock, and their tendency to eat pretty much anything (including olives and olive leaves); whereas the lovely more refined red and white cows eat pretty much only the fresh hay they are fed, and then grass and herbs. The grey and white Alpine cows are stocky, with super muscular legs thanks to their lineage (mountain cows who must climb around on mountains and keep their balance).

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He sells 80% of his cheeses, direct to customers (taking orders via phone and dropping them off at points where people come and pick them up or selling to those that come and visit him).He makes only cows milk cheeses (says he doesn’t like the personality of sheep and so doesn’t want to add any to his farm), which are closest in style to Caciotta, when trying to define them in terms of Tuscan cheeses.

I tasted about six or seven cheeses with Francesco in the little dark cool room off the side of his cheese-making room (both in his house), freshly sliced from wheels sitting and the shelves there. Different shapes help him tell the differences in styles. Most differences, according to Francesco are only due to the ways the cheeses are heated, stirred, how much of each milk is used (from each type of cow) and which enzymes (or coagulating agents) are used (for rennet), since they aren’t really aging cheeses. Though he did have two categories of cheeses: those aged only a few days before selling/eating and those aged a few weeks.

Francesco’s cheeses are more or less eaten fresh (only a few days of aging), like most Tuscan cheeses are designed to be. The cheeses that I tasted ranged from soft, creamy, rich, and white or pale yellow to firmer textured, more complex, and stronger flavored (as well as darker yellow with a slightly tough rind). Some were coated in red pepper or chives. The most complex flavor profile I tasted, was that of Francesco’s ‘cheese in a black t-shirt’, a cheese coated in black pepper (of course he said this name in Italian ‘nella una camincia nera’ ), that had been made with a higher percentage of the grey Alpine cow’s milk (a bit stronger and more diverse flavor according to Francesco) and stirred for much longer and prepared a bit more carefully (tough to translate exactly what Francesco was saying at this point-my technical cheese-making Italian isn’t 100%). 

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Francesco’s cheese in a black shirt (coated in black pepper) or ‘una camincia nera’ (in Italian)

Though sheep’s milk cheeses are still my favorite in the world, this guy makes some awesome cows milk cheeses, and was generous enough to meet me at his home and give me the full tour and tasting treatment. He isn’t on any tourist ‘trail’ in Tuscany. I only found a phone number and an address. I called him originally to request the appointment (of course using my Italian and hoping I wasn’t screwing anything up).  His home and farm were nowhere near anything else of note in Tuscany that you might be visiting…. so it’s kind of a stop you’ll want to take simply for it’s own sake (and of course driving around any area of Tuscany is beautiful).  Lamporecchio is about an hour’s drive from Lucca.

It’s these kinds of tastings and meetings that remind me of how important it is to support small farms, and small businesses. It’s why I spent my entire twenties living in Sonoma County, working with wineries and sourcing cheese, and meat, and oil from small local producers for our events. There’s something special about this tangible connection to the earth, that you find when you use products grown in your own backyard (or the backyard of wherever you may be traveling) with characteristics unique to the land, soil, and farming methods. The small businesses you support, are also add to the beauty and value of shopping and eating this way.

Support small businesses! Like Francesco here. And if you can’t make it to Italy to taste cheese…

Try your own backyard.

There are some spots who do this kind of farming and small production of cheeses, in California (I love the guys doing it in Sonoma and Marin counties!) and all over the U.S. It just takes time to find them. I’m here to help if you need tips!

Francesco&Brooke

I Due Falchetti
Indirizzo: Via Bufignano, 9, 51035 Lamporecchio PT
Telefono:349 142 7085
 

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29 Comments

  • Sounds like my idea of heaven! I’m staying at an agriturismo in Southern Italy for the first time this summer and I can’t wait.

    • Thanks Marteen,

      I liked the cheese in the black shirt the best, but i bought more of the young soft ones as they were easy to eat every day. I bought both one rolled in chives and one rolled in red pepper. Great for grilled cheeses or just cheeses and crackers 🙂

    • Thanks Jasmine- have you been to Tuscany? I agree, I thought it was hilarious he wouldn’t get sheep because of their personalities. I do agree both cows and goats are a bit cooler. But I love sheep’s milk cheese!

  • I absolutely love cheese! So I can definitely see myself enjoying a tasting like this! When I’m at home, I try to go to the farmer’s market to get local cheese as a treat, always so tasty!

    • where’s home? I’m an avid Farmer’s market attender myself. I love picking up fresh eggs (when I can afford them) and lots of fresh veggies and fruits and nuts, honey, etc

    • Anshula- it was fun touring and even more fun eating some of it later, when I stopped on the side of the road with a view of Poppi Castle and ate some of the cheese with my apple and crackers. Impromptu Tuscan picnic!”)

  • Tuscany and cheese, two favorites of mine! I also strongly believe in supporting local businesses and look for restaurants that source out ingredients from nearby farms. Great post!

    • Hi Christina-where are you from?

      Agreed-thanks! Almost every area in every country has some local small businesses that do something unique and it’s just knowing someone or hearing something or trying to find them that is the difference! As I’m an aspiring small business who needs all the support I can get. I totally dig finding these guys and directing people their way 🙂

  • Amazing experience 😀 Both tasting cheese and meeting the locals 🙂 Aren’t Italians the kindest and the warmest nation in the world?:)

  • I wish I knew about him when I went to Italy! What a special experience that would have been! I guess I’ll have to go back now lol – as if I needed an excuse 😉

    • Tamar- ahahha. yes there are always so many new little places and artisans to discover, in any country that only living there or staying a long time an uncover. You’ll have to go back again and again….

      Even in my own state of California, up North in wine country, I am constantly finding new little wine producers or restaurants that I didn’t know about. It’s an ever changing world, and I love that every day is a new adventure

      Where are you from?

  • Cheese is like nirvana. What a great experience. The Black tshirt cheese looks delicious! did you get to watch him make any new cheese? I had no idea the amount of stirring changes the flavor so much. Very interesting post. Thanks.

    • Grazie Tricia!

      no making an actual cheese the day we were there. Since he’s a one man show-it’s either touring with people or selling or delivering, or making the cheese… and there are a lot of steps involved in getting a cheese started-that don’t happen every day 🙂

  • Yummm I love cheese! I’m going backpacking in Europe this summer and was going to try French cheeses but now I might have to try these cheeses in Tuscany as well! Thanks for the interesting read!

    • Cynthia- French cheeses are the best in the world in my opinion-there is sooo much variety and so many rich, aged amaaaazing types that you can get anywhere and everywhere. I eat cheese a lot more in France than Italy (which tends to be pretty mild and plain styles and the same types over and over but still good).

      nothing like a slightly rindy-stinky runny French cheese and some fruit or a baguette. Set!

  • Hi Brooke,

    I love dairy products! The cheese with the black pepper looks interesting indeed, I am wondering if the taste was too strong. Thank you for sharing your experience in his farm. You are right, we need to support our local farms and small businesses. Great message and post, thank you!

    Zaria

    • Thanks Zaria! The taste wasn’t too strong with the black pepper cheese, because you actually cut the rind off before you eat it, so it just has a light effect on the cheese itself 🙂

  • Hi, my husband and I are travelling to Tuscany in August and this farm seems perfect as we are considering starting to make cheese from our cow farm in Ireland. Unfortunately we don’t speak any Italian, does the farmer speak English and how do we contact him to visit him?
    Thanks for the advice 🙂

    • Hi Charlene,

      The owner does speak a little English. His phone numbers is listed at the bottom of this post 🙂 Perhaps you can have your B&B host call for you once in Italy? Once you get there I think you can get by 🙂

      • Hi, thanks for your reply. Would it be the best cheese farm you would recommend for us to visit in Tuscany?

        Thanks again
        Charlene 🙂

        • Hi Charlene

          I can’t really say it’s the best since I didn’t visit any others. But it was the only place I found that was small, off the beaten path and not being marketed with paid tours. I found through a lot of research.It’not near anything else though 🙂

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