Last month in Pienza I was surrounded by a hundred little animals, white wool coats matted down with hay and dirt, as they trotted past me down the road. And there I met Aldo, a local farmer. He told me they produce this amazing cheese named Pecorino. “Although the cheese had been produced in Tuscany for centuries, it was the arrival of the Sardinian shepherds who transformed it into a culture,” Aldo said proudly.
Starting in the 1950’s poverty forced most Tuscan farmers off of the land to look for work in the cities. The poor contadini Toscani were replaced by the even poorer Sardinian shepherds whom for generations tried to survive the poor conditions of their own island and fled to mainland Italy and Tuscany hoping for a better life. Thanks largely to the Sardinians’ determination, today a thriving Tuscan cheese making industry exists in which both Sardinians and Tuscans work.
Tuscan bread or a schiacciata filled with Pecorino cheese (pure or in combination with other fillings) is a very popular and most delicious local street delicacy. Thanks to Aldo and his ancestors!