My weather app tells me it is still raining in Pontelandolfo, but here in Paestum, Cilento the sun is shining and we are cozily ensconced in glamorous lounge chairs facing a luscious garden and silent pool. (More about this place in a separate blog.) A perfect afternoon after the perfect morning. We set off from Pontelandolfo at 8:00 AM with our friends Mariann and Jeff. (Well getting up at 6:00 AM to be packed and out the door by 8:00 AM was not toooo perfect.). Our goal was to drive down hill to the Province of Salerno and visit a magical organic farm, Tenuta Vannulo.
When I think of organic farms yielding great produce, I immediately think of my favorite family farmers Andrea and Tony at New Jersey’s Martenette Farm. I need them to come and check out this place. Tenuta Vannulo is a different type of farm – a much bigger operation. This farm, raising hundreds of water buffalo and lots of produce, is something to behold. For over three generations, beginning in the early 1900s, It has been in the Palmieri family. Even though it is a huge operation, the family is still involved. We spotted the 70 something Senore Palmieri out in the kitchen garden with a hoe. I would encourage all members of Organic Farming Associations who want to experience something that creates yummy products and attracts bus loads of locals and tourists alike to head to Southern Italy.
Tenuta Vannulo is not only an incredibly efficient modern working buffalo farm but also operates a number of buffalo driven shops and a restaurant. Of course there is a caseificio. Locals stop in for the freshest of cheeses – mozzarella, bocconcini, aversana, treccia, scamorza, burro and more – all made with the milk of bufalo indiano. No industrial production here! Everything is hand made with a limited production. The farm’s goal is to make enough to sell just to their local market.
If you are a kid getting off one of the ten buses filled with school groups that we saw, you began whining for the Yogurteria e Cioccolateria the moment you stepped off the bus. Actually, the whines were delightful, in multiple part harmonies and all the kids were sporting the same color cap. I figure it is easier for teachers to track their class if they sport the same color. Yup, these kids didn’t care about the mozzarella they wanted buffalo gelato! The gelato is just the beginning. One can get un caffè, cappuccino, fresh baked products, amazing puddings, candies – I can’t go on. My strictly enforced diet made me miss tasting but not drooling. (Don’t tell my diet buddies but I did have a cappucino made with buffalo milk. I wish I could buy this milk! So creamy, yet light – it has more fat than cow milk.)
The farm has more to look at than fields of produce, water buffalos, and wonderful outdoor spaces, they make and sell designer purses! The designer bags and goods, made on the premises by leather workers are fabulous. I controlled my self and went home without one but I may go back. Imagine saying – “oh this old thing – it’s made of buffalo hide from a wee artigianal shop near Salerno.” 🤣😂
Me thinks I talk too much. My effusive voice driven by what a cool place this is. I will stop typing. Video tells it best –
Now that you’ve seen the majestic creatures, let me tell you what our great guide, Rosaria, told us about the water buffalos. (Midge I thought you were done talking?) Back to the buffalo – they are smart! Three hundred of the milk producers reside in the ginormous stable – unfettered! They only ever take homeopathic medicines. They wake up in the morning to classical music. Buffalos like ritual – they have habits. Once they have chosen their bed – yes a foam mattress – they sleep in the same spot daily. If a buffalo feels the need to be milked, she strolls over to the self milking machine. Each buffalo has a micro chip so the farmers know who has been milked and how much they produced – it averages nine liters a day. Feeling hot a sticky? Mosey over to the shower for a cool down spray. Need a back rub? Head over to the car wash style rubdown machine. Space dirty? The cleaning crew comes by multiple times a day. Mariann laughingly said, ” in my next life I wouldn’t mind coming back as one of these girls.”
This is a cool place to visit. It is a wee bit off the tourist path and even with ten buses of kids I, with no patiences, didn’t feel stamped upon or smacked with a backpack. Hmm, I didn’t see any backpacks – thank the goddesses. The tours are organized so that we didn’t seem to overlap with another one. Each group was relatively small. The place is huge, so it is even possible to find a quiet place to sit and stare. The restaurant is worth the trip and the prices are not tourist outrageous. There were a lot of locals just there for lunch. Midge stop talking, just go back again! Enjoy!
Ci vediamo a presto!