I like the word backblog – I’m not sure if she invented it, but I’ve lifted it from Tiffany (Dr. SciVorg on my links). This note is just to give credit where it’s due…

Anyway, I was reminded reading Tiffany’s pages on Italy that I’ve only really given an account of part of one day of my enchanted April. And since then I’ve had a rather enchanted June, July & August too, albeit in Vienna and if I’m not careful I’ll be backlogged on those chronicles as well! Not that anyone’s checking, but having begun this blog project I should do right by it.

To continue the saga where I left off, sated and mildly tipsy from Emilio’s vineyard as we were, Shraddha and I made our way to the village of Modigliana where we decided to take a break before heading on to our next scheduled destination – a cheese farm for tea/dessert. The very thought of food is actually what mandated our break. We were far too full to even consider downing another morsel (or sip come to think of it) before walking some of our previous meal off.

And so we did. Modigliana is a charming village in the Romagna region, and was on the way to our cheese farm. At the risk of repeating myself, it was not the birth place of the artist Modigliani but may have nevertheless been the source for his family name. Anyway the village has an old ruined castle atop a hill, which our trusty host Silvio had recommended we check out. To get to the castle ruins we actually had to cross a bridge over a moat. In other circumstances I might have found it too kitschy but here managed to charm me to my toes. Especially when reached to the top to find fenced in by the tower (which was crumbling and out of bounds) several black pigs. En route up there we were overtaken by a guy and his infant daughter on a scooter, who seemed pretty amazed to find a couple of Indian girls (amazingly to us in turn, he nailed our origins with his first guess) on his familiar route. And felt flattered too, I think, that we thought to stop there.

We finally made it to the cheese place well around 6 (I no longer remember). The sun was still up but not for much longer — it was definitely dark by the time we finished there but that was several hours later. The place is called Rio Monte and to call it a cheese farm is to do it a grave injustice.

Alberto and Ester preparing a fresh batch of ravvigiolo

Actually the Rio Monte is a full-fledged bed and breakfast, which boasts the rock star Steven Tyler (I think, and hope Alberto forgives me if I’m wrong) among its celebrity guests. And now us! You can read all about the place and people in their own words at their website. Here I include our firsthand experiences and take full responsibility for all mistakes of memory and mistranslation:

One of the first details that struck me about the place was the lovely old staircase leading up to the rooms of the B&B. Liked them so much that I not only photographed them but also made Matteo and Shraddha pose at the base. Speaking of Matteo, the (9?)-year son of Alberto and Ester, he was definitely the star of our evening there. Based solely on what he’d learned in school, for parents spoke nary a word of English, he proved an extremely competent translator. And a real darling all round. At the time we visited he had just been selected to represent his area in a national competition in mathematics. Matteo if you read this blog, please do post a comment or send a note and tell us how it went. We’d love to hear from you.

Alberto, Matteo’s dad is former trucker & member of the merchant marines (again I think) who a few years ago decided to settle down and take up dairy farming. Yet another character full of local vim and vigor with an enthusiasm for life and living that was heart-warming to see. He had done a fair bit of traveling in his youth, and has even been to Egypt though not with his family. When I suggested he make a return visit with Matteo and Ester his retort (in Italian) was he’d have to build an Ark (as in Noah) to be able to leave his farm! Shraddha could certainly attest to that statement as she had by then petted every pettable beast and talked to all the others. The menagerie included cows of at least two different breeds to contribute volume and milkfat (= taste) respectively to their cheeses, pigs, sheep, innumerable cats, a retired dog that had once been a prize-winning truffle hunter (Alberto showed us a photograph of Matteo with one of their best finds) and some chickens too? An ark was indeed required if this family was to cross the Mediteranean.

Chatting at sunset

Our repast here was necessarily smaller than lunch at Il Pratello and starred the aforementioned ravvigiolo. This fresh cheese is only made in small batches and involved curdling the milk without either boiling it or adding sour stuff, which gives a naturally sweet large curd. Yummy eaten with fruit or compotes (RioMonte makes and sells their own) as is customary, or as we did, with a sprinkling of that Italian staple of olive oil and salt. Along with some home cured ham and a gentle white wine we were replete and sated for the second time that day. But wait – then came the grand finale, a lovely rich homemade dark chocolate liqueur. This last product is not sold and only served to special guests (as I like to believe we were). Liquid gold couldn’t be more precious! We expressed our gratitude as best we could in their guest book, and then stood and chatted under the setting sun before finally taking our leave.

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