Pienza (Toscana) – In challenges requiring precision and deft skill it could be said that all it takes is a flick of the wrist, yet watching the players in this engaging cacio-hurling contest, I think it would be safe to say that it’s also worth knowing your cheese?
On a weekend escape nearly 2 weeks ago, the irresistible draw of pecorino (make that Pienza pecorino from Tuscany) saw us at the Fiera del Cacio. Held on the 1st Sunday of September, witnessing this traditional game of rolling a whole round of cacio toward the spindle was a lot of fun. The game is simple enough: a wheel of cheese is rolled toward a spindle. Points are tallied according to where the cacio lands. I believe extra points are scored if the round falls flat instead of remaining on edge. This was not as crowded as the frog races earlier this year but getting up close to the partitioned game area was impossible. The elder, more experienced players seemed to have that added flair honed into their strategy.
Il vero pecorino si fa a Pienza
The saying is…the true pecorino is made in Pienza and as expected, we couldn’t leave without purchasing some to take home. All along the main street and in the alleys branching off, numerous stands of pungent pecorino filled our nostrils, making it a paradise for Maddie our cheese-greedy westie (she was furtively licking up fallen bits from the ground). Thick strands of pici pasta, chickpea flour, thin anise-flavored wafers called brigidini, salumi, olive oils, even a cart selling nutella-filled crepes hot off the griddle…all of the things that make Italy such a divine place for the senses were present to amplify the event.