The Fattoria Santa Lucia is a modern farm complex located near to Minturno and Sessa Aurunca, along the ancient Roman thoroughfare of the Appian Way, not far from the River Garigliano which divides the regions of Lazio and Campania.
Buffalo have been farmed on these plains for many centuries, yet the buffalo, bubalus bubalis‘, is not an animal indigenous to Italy, in fact it originates from the of East India. There is some debate as to how and when the buffalo were introduced into Italy. Some historians believe they were brought here by the Saracens while others think it was down to the Lombards. However it is known that there have been buffalo farmed on the plains of this area of southern Italy for many many centuries.
The Fattoria Santa Lucia has a large herd of buffalo and it welcomes visitors to its premises. It also welcomes school parties and offers educational tours. You can observe the buffalo in various areas of the farm.
It soon became apparent to me that there is nothing a water buffalo likes more on a blisteringly hot day in Italy than to wallow and roll in a pool of mud, to help protect itself from the heat.
Dotted around the farm there are interesting educational panels regarding the breeding of the livestock and how the animals are fed and cared for.
There is another section with the mothers and their young calves. The babies are so adorable.
A lactating mother can produce 7 litres of milk a day which is high in protein content and essential vitamins especially vitamin B, K, and J. Following the milking process the milk must be quickly chilled to a temperature of 4 to 6 degrees C.
Rennet is then added to the milk to form the curds which are then heated in the whey to form strings which give the mozzarella its elastic consistency. The strings of curd are then cut – The term mozzarella is derived from this procedure called mozzare which means “cutting by hand”. The curd is then formed into the characteristic balls of soft milky cheese.
The smaller sized balls are known as boccancini. The cheese can also be formed into plaits.
Mozzarella produced in this area has the certification of Mozzarella di bufala campana DOP. On the farm is a small shop where you can buy the freshly produced Mozzarella and other delicious locally produced products. The cheese is best preserved in some of its whey and should ideally be consumed within a day or two of purchase.
We love it served sliced or quartered together with sun ripened tomatoes, chopped basil and a generous drizzle of our own Tre Cancelle November Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Delicious – there’s nothing quite like it !!!
The farm also has an agriturismo, a restaurant where you can sample the local produce and traditional dishes.
All other photos by me © Louise Shapcott