Our first field trip day was to the town of Roncofreddo in the Romagna area of Emilia-Romagna. It was our first real look at the Italian landscape beyond Parma and it was breathtaking. The road up the mountain to Roncofreddo was terrifying, our large tour bus was not designed to drive these types of steep inclines with sharp turns and cliffs and occasional oncoming traffic on a truly one-way road. We went on a tour of the Frantoio Baldiserri olive oil mill, through the olive trees and into the mill itself. The owner, a sweet older Italian man named Renato, explained the process of pressing and refining the oil. I bought some olive oil from the mill, for only 9 euros, he pumped the oil from the vats and bottled it right in front of us! Amazing!
Renato had us for lunch in his cliffside home that had a terrace which overlooked the Romagnan valleys, with the independent state of San Marino in the far distance on a mountaintop. It was magical. Renato had lived in this house since the day he was born and treated us like family in his home. We ate a three-course meal of prosciutto, home-made sausage, piadina, and the freshest tastiest figs I have ever seen as an antipasta, a stracciatella soup, and local chicken. We relaxed on his terrace and headed on our way to his pecorino cheese making shop. The process of making this cheese is really interesting, I’ll write more about it another day.
We went to a farm next and fed adorable cows hay and ate grapes off the vine and figs off the tree. Idyllic.
On the way back, stuffed and tired, our teacher stopped the bus at a typical Piadina stand. Piadina are a typical snack in the Romagna region. A piadina is a flatbread made with flour, lard, salt and water and is filled somewhat like a pizza, I had one with pomodoro and mozzarella, others had spinach and potato, some had tuna in them…very yummy indeed.