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Losing Sheep and Finding Sausage in Italy

The sun was shining gloriously through the early morning mist as my friend Margo and I woke on our last day at the beautiful agriturismo Casa Scaparone near Alba, Italy.

We packed our bags and went to take showers only to discover there was no hot water! Not a welcome discovery on a chilly October morning, but such are the occasional hiccups of staying in the Italian countryside. Margo ran downstairs to let our host know, and they immediately set about putting it to rights…by firing up the wood stove to get the water hot. πŸ™‚ I love discovering little quirks like that. It never did get hot enough before we had to leave, but as I shivered my way through my morning ablutions, I grinned thinking how fun it was to be staying in a place where water is heated by flame-licked logs in a stove.

Margo and I met up in the wonderful old dining room (click here to see photos) for one last hearty farm breakfast. I toasted thick slices of homemade bread and slathered it with homemade soft goat cheese and homemade jams made from fruit grown on the farm. Our host made us deliciously strong Italian coffee and I soaked up the atmosphere of this marvelous place, delighting in the brick floor smoothed with age, the sturdy dark timbers overhead, and the soft light streaming in the tall windows.

Once our bags were loaded in the car, Margo and I bid farewell to Casa Scaparone and headed down the mountainside to pick up our fellow writer Kathy in nearby Alba. Armed with a hand-drawn map scribbled by our host on an obliging place mat, we were on the search for a sheep farm where we hoped to learn all about the making of cheese.

Our search took us far up into the hills, up, up, up, meandering through tiny villages and along the edges of sheer drop-offs. It was stunning!

Italian mountain village

It didn’t take us long to get lost, or rather, for the sheep farm to get lost. We knew precisely where we were, but there was no sheep farm to be found. We stopped often for directions, easing our way through narrow alleys in search of someone, anyone who might know where it was. But to no avail. Not one of the Italians we met had ever heard of it. Alas.

It didn’t matter though. We were so in awe of the gorgeous countryside we were seeing in our rambles, that we really didn’t mind.

After winding our way through the town of Cuneo, we decided to stop at a welcoming looking farmhouse to see if they knew where our elusive sheep farm was. We were greeted by a tiny Italian woman who spoke the merest amount of English. She’d never heard of the sheep farm either but she then surprised us with the announcement that she was a sausage maker. Not only was she a sausage maker, but her “factory” was just down the road.

Well, with three food-lovers in the car, there’s no way we could pass up a chance to see how Italian sausage is made. We sauntered down the country lane and entered a ramshackle courtyard complete with some ferociously barking dogs. After a rather entertaining display of bravado, we made it past the dogs, through the farmyard, and into the pristine and odoriferous environs of the sausage-making workshop.

Thanks to Kathy’s interpreting skills, we learned a lot about Italian sausage and dried meats. We learned that pancetta must be made from the stomach since it has more fat, while prosciutto (my favorite) comes from the leaner leg. Our hostess told us that she processes ten pigs a week all year long and still can’t make enough sausage to keep up with demand. Having tasted her product – salty, savory, and toothsome – it’s little wonder.

We bid farewell to our sausage-making friend and headed for the hills on our way to Lago Orta. Pretty soon we were ravenous and stopped for a roadside picnic featuring finds from our travels that day: local cheese, handmade sausage and Italian chocolate.

We never did find the sheep farm. Perhaps some day we’ll go back to that area of Italy and go a-hunting once more. Until then I cherish sunshiny memories of a glorious fall day in the Piedmont.

What is your favorite picnic food?




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thefisherlady - you’re sure the sheep weren’t wrapped up in that sausage πŸ™‚
such a beautiful paradise for sheep to get lost in~

Em (WIne and Butter) - oh my goodness I want to be there – last time BF and I were in Italy we had smoked ricotta – definitely my new favourite picnic food!!

Krista - Well…it didn’t taste like lamb! πŸ™‚ Isn’t it gorgeous? If I was a sheep I’d be very happy there. πŸ™‚

Krista - Oh my, Em, that sounds incredible! πŸ™‚ I adore fresh ricotta but I’ve never had it smoked before. Yum! πŸ™‚

bellini - Finding these little undiscovered places is the best part of travel..the unexpected little gem!!

Priya Mahadevan - I am a vegetarian, but I am willing to see all the sausages hanging, if I could spend a weekend at that BEAUTIFUL place πŸ™‚ first time here and happy I stopped by – Please do check out my blog when you get a chance – ciao! Priya

Beth - Those are incredible photos. Β Thanks for sharing this wonderful holiday with us. Β I’ll definitely be checking out the link to Casa Scaparone!

Krista - They truly are, dear Val. πŸ™‚ Funny how much joy they bring. πŸ™‚

Krista - I’m so glad you like the PLACE in spite of the meat, Priya. πŸ™‚ It’s lovely to meet you and I’d enjoy visiting your blog. Please let me know where to find you. πŸ™‚

Jared and Breanne Mosher - Oh, what a lovely little escape from the frigid winter here in Edmonton. I loved reading this, every little detail you captured on camera and with your words. Mmm, beautiful!

Krista - Thanks so much, Beth. πŸ™‚ You are VERY welcome! Casa Scaparone is a jewel of a place, very rustic and quirky, but I loved it. πŸ™‚

Krista - I’m SO glad it helped you escape, dear Breanne. πŸ™‚ It did the same for me, made me feel like I’d taken a little vacation. πŸ™‚

Annette | Bucket List Journey - Oooh! My husband is going to be so jealous! He has been making his own sausage and would have loved to have gotten some pointers when we wereΒ in Italy.

Zizi - Oh, this is a lovely stroy and the photos are gorgeous. They remind me of my Tuscan escape last October!

Krista - How cool, Annette! I’m going to learn how to make sausage this year too. I’m so excited about it. πŸ™‚

Krista - Thank you, dear Zita. πŸ™‚ I’m so glad they made you think of such a beautiful time in your life. πŸ™‚

Joanne - Way to make lemonade out of lemons…or sausage out of missing sheep?Β  Either way, it sounds like you had an awesome time!Β 

I commend you on your cold showering abilities.Β  I would not have been able to do it. I’m kind of a baby about my showers.

Vickie - “slathered it with homemade soft goat cheese and homemade jams made from fruit grown on the farm” …makes me hungry and sounds delicious.Β  I had to laugh about never finding the sheep farm!Β  One has to have traveled through the Italian countryside to fully appreciate how that is so Italian.Β  I loved the post and I cannot wait to return to Italy.

Andrea and John - What a fantastic day – I’d love to learn how those delicious sausages are made!

Velva-Tomatoes on the Vine - I woud say that it was not bad to get lost in the Italian countryside. This story reminded of Croatia where we mentioned a cheese that was only made on one of the Croatian Islands and within minutes we were knocking on the door of a woman who made this cheese by hand-wow! What an experience we had-

Velva

hila - oh dear, the food, the food! That’s one of the best things about travel, right?

Krista - Oh, I’m an absolute wimp about cold showers too, Joanne! Only sheer desperation drove me to it. πŸ™‚

A Canadian Foodie - I am certain you will never forget this meal. These are the best kind. I love eating like this when I travel. Incredible photos! I would love to travel with you as I can see we have similar interests – well, I already knew that! What plug in are you using for the side bar pull out in green? I love it!
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V

Krista - Me too, Andrea. πŸ™‚ They were so savory and delicious. πŸ™‚

Krista - I hope you get to go back very soon, Vickie! πŸ™‚

Krista - Thank you, Katie! πŸ™‚ It was such a fun and unexpected adventure.

Krista - What a fantastic experience, Velva. πŸ™‚ I would’ve loved an adventure like that! πŸ™‚

Krista - It sure is, Hila!! Something I look forward to almost more than anything. πŸ™‚

Krista - I would LOVE to travel with you too, Valerie! πŸ™‚ The side bar isn’t a widget, it’s called a Sliding Sidebar and it comes with the theme that I use, Minimalist through Pro Photo Blogs. You can see more here: http://www.prophotoblogs.com/

Margo Millure - can we go back here now, please?. πŸ™‚

Jeanne @ CookSister - Oh – how did I miss this post? Β Too gorgeous! Β That’s the best kind of travel – where youget “lost” but discover something even better in the process. Β My sis-in-law is from Zibello near Parma and the local butcher showed us how they make Culatello di Zibello – his cellar full of hanging culatelli smelt like I imagine the sausage factory smelt! Β Gorgeous pics πŸ™‚

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