Colla Paolo Srl Industria Casearia
Dairy Number: PC528
Via Castello, 63
29010 - S. Imento di Rottofreno (PC)
tel. 0523 781120 – fax 0523 781115
In the town square of Sant’Imento di Rottofreno, in the Province of Piacenza, lying between the Po, the Trebbia and the Tidone rivers, there is not a statue or a war memorial but a tractor, bearing testimony to the strong farming tradition.
Continuing past the square, we see a castle on the left, a real castle, inside which is the “Colla Paolo” dairy.
We are welcomed by Filippo, a member of the new generation of the Colla family.
He tells us that the castle hasn't always belonged to the family, but was bought by his great-grandfather following a bankruptcy.
Behind the castle is the dairy which produced Grana Padano until 2005 and has now fallen into disuse. From the outside we can see the area where the truck once came to unload the churns, and inside, in the upper part of the facility, the area where the skimming tanks used to be is still visible, along with the holes underneath it, where the cauldrons were positioned.
The milk would sink to the bottom and the cream left floating at the top was used to make the butter. The impressive churn we can still see here suggests that it was produced on a large scale.
The brining area is in the basement. When it was time to place the wheels in the brine, they would be carried on the workers' shoulders... and we are taking about a wet wheel weighing 40 kilos!
Obviously a wheel could only be placed inside the brining tank if another wheel was taken out of it, and this would in turn be carried on the workers' shoulders to the upper floor where the ageing storehouse was located.
As the years went by, technology was brought in and a lift was put in place to help ease the burden.
We are now joined by Roberto Colla, who introduces his father Paolo, the founder of this dairy, who has experienced personally what it was like to toil away in a dairy without any new technology.
He tells us that in 2006 it was decided that a new dairy would be built, next to the old one, featuring all the new technologies, including skimming vats, new and bigger cauldrons and immersion brine tanks. And what about the ageing storehouse? That isn't here.
To get to it, he takes his bike and leads us to a courtyard not very far away, where all the wheels of Grana Padano are stored and left to mature. Here we discover another of Roberto's passions. It's a magical place with all kinds of bicycles, old cheesemaking implements, scales, photos and so on, all skilfully restored.
Every object, big or small, has its own hidden story, which Roberto can only briefly mention as time is running out and we have to leave. But we promise that we'll be back to see him as soon as we can!!!