We checked-out of the Residence Mugello and headed by bus into the country-side, just 15 minutes out of Scarperia, to the family business of Giovanna (la mama), Sandra and Roberto (her children) to experience the true meaning of “fatto al mano” (made by hand.) The family (which at that time also included Giovanna’s husband), moved from Sardengna to start up a cheese “factory.”

As we neared the property, we saw sheep grazing in the nearby fields. The family produces two types of cheese made from sheep’s milk: pecorino and ricotta.

We were able to see both types being made, literally by hand (at one point, once the curds have formed, Sandra immerses her entire arm into a 200 liter vat and breaks up the curds that way). We learned how the pecorino is aged (al stagionato) and how ricotta is created from the remaining milk after the pecorino is removed.

We were served a tasting of both cheese in various forms (fresh, partially-aged, and aged.) We then got to sample the ricotta, still warm from the process, with marmalade made from berries that grow on the property.

Everything here is “biologico” (organic). The sheep only are fed with grass and other grains grown on the farm. No steriods, no hormones, no antibiotics. We learned about the different tastes of the cheese depending on the time of the year as it is all related to what the sheep eat.

Then, back on the bus and home to Florence. Later in the evening, we had a wonderful dinner at a restaurant just a few doors down from our hostel, Il Ginone. A great ending to a fun field trip.