Discovering Italy: Formaggio di Fossa Cheese and Emilia Romagna
If you are planning your holidays in Emilia Romagna, travel to Sogliano al Rubicone and Talamello, homeland of the famous Pecorino cheese Formaggio di Fossa.
If you are planning autumn holidays in Emilia Romagna, travel to Sogliano al Rubicone, the homeland of the famous Pecorino cheese Formaggio di Fossa, where every November 25 - the day dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria - the ancient rite of "infossatura" and "sfossatura" is repeated. A real ritual dedicated to this special Italian aged cheese s much loved by the locals!
Celebrating Pecorino di Fossa
The practice of storing cheese in holes dug into the tufa stone dates back to the 15th century when, in order to preserve food longer and in a safe place, the local people began to dig holes out of the stone under the floors of their houses. There, they used to hide the wheels of cheese restoring the original pavement above them.
In Talamello, a stone's throw from Rimini, in the East of Emilia Romagna, there are more than 20 pits dedicated to the “infossatura” of cheese. Every summer they all well cleaned and dried with a bonfire of straw and twigs. Then, a cavity at the bottom is created to collect the liquid, the walls are covered with a timber framework and straw. There the forms of this special cheese are laid down and collected after three months, that is on November 25. While staying in the pit microorganisms that naturally occur in the straw "attack" the cheese, which then undergoes a second fermentation in an almost oxygen-free, losing fat and gaining a characteristic strong and determined flavor.
This aging process is very ancient but still practiced in two small towns: Sogliano and Talamello.
During the Sogliano festival it is possible to taste the sweet and slightly spicy flavor of pit cheese, just taken out ot the hole, on its own or combined with other culinary treasures of the area.
Talamello, homeland of Formaggio di Fossa
Your visit to Emilia Romagna can start in Talamello, set in the Valmarecchia, a valley rich in beautiful towns like Sant’Arcangelo di Romagna or San Leo. Talamello belonged to the Marche region until 2009.
Arriving from the coast, driving up the Apennines, one can imagine Caesar's legions marching to Rome, just after having crossed the Rubicon river, ready to change history. You can admire the Malatesta castle where Dante's tragedy with Paolo and Francesca as protagonists took place. Dozens of castles, hundreds of thousands of stories of wars and battles; an area where even the unification of Italy had to grant an exception to allow San Marino to be an independent Republic. But back to the pits and to our flavor destinations.
Talamello is a village perched on top of a small mountain that you can reach after passing through a beautiful forest. From the main square of Talamello you can enjoy a wonderful view and start discovering the street where the ancient pits are situated. Most of them are inaccessible because in private homes, but there are two of them that you can visit: one is public, the other one is situated in a typical restaurant of the village, La Locanda dell'Ambra, where you would have the opportunity to try traditional recipes with this crumbly Italian cheese.
Ambra di Talamello and Sogliano Fossa Cheese: Differences
The other place renowned for the production of the Formaggio di Fossa is Sogliano sul Rubicone, 12 twenty kilometers from Talamello, heading the sea. Sogliano is bigger than Talamello and is homeland of a large variety of artisanal aged cheese.
Talamello cheese has a less aggressive taste than Sogliano cheese, maybe because the nature of its stone causes a higher level of humidity.
But honestly, if you are really curios to know the differences between the tww cheeses, there is no better way than making a tour of the Valmarecchia and discover this discrete yet wonderful corner of Emilia Romagna: Petrella Guidi (in the cover picture), Pinnabilli are just two of the places to visit in this amazing area.
And don't miss the chance to try the other gourmet products of this region: in a one-hour drive you will reach the other side fo the region and will be able to taste the best Balsamic Vinegar di Modena, Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano.
Bur if you really can't take a plane but wish to fly within your kitchen, discover our pecorino cheese recipes and enjoy!