Herding Sheep at the Cheese Factory Rionca

Troy and I are thrilled to share our coverage of the Rionca Cheese Factory in the Italian Alps. This was one of our favorite stops on our working farm tour in Italy.

We arrived to the Tondella Franzino family home on a chili November morning. Located outside of Torino and in the Italian Alps, it was as if we stepped on a movie set. The fog was thick, sheep bells were ringing, and our host Claudia was quintessential sheep herder.

We settled with a taste of Claudia’s curly carpaccio di zucca (pumpkin carpaccio) and conversation about running a Pecorino cheese factory. This family has been making cheese for 20 years. They care for 80 sheep, a few goats, and sheep dogs.

After our meal, we head out to the jagged pasture to herd the sheep with Claudia and her son Ermete. Below are interesting facts I learned about herding sheep at Rionca:

• Herding sheep is the act of caring for, protecting, and feeding sheep
• Border Collies are used to direct grazing sheep by circling and barking
• The bells allow the family to keep track of sheep
• Rionca has three active males for 70 females
• Breeding occurs naturally
• When the females are fertile, the males fight
• Sheep graze on grass, blackberry plants, chestnuts

See it for yourself on ChopSizzlePop! TV here.

Up next—more photos from Rionca, a webisode on making Pecorino cheese, bloopers, and more cheese goodies.

Claudia, Ermete & Me

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