Our history

Since 1939...

Not to waste a single milk drop 114 farmers founded a cooperative dairy

The history of the Caseificio Il Battistero (The Baptistry dairy) has something in common with Parmigiano Reggiano origins, which probably go back to Medieval Benedectine monks: not to waste a single milk drop from their farmlands, they transformed it in a long lasting cheese, a precious food reserve and a source of income as well.
In 1939 sharecropping was still the most common type of farming in our valleys. Life was hard, and farmers welcomed as a blessing every possibility of putting aside some money for the lean times.
Then 114 farmers from Ceno and Pessola’s valleys decided to collect the small amount of milk not used for their own support to make and sell Parmigiano Reggiano.
The Safeguarding Consortium of this product, that will become the symbol of Parma's Food Valley, was founded just a few years earlier, in 1934.

IlCenoOkA dairy by the river, where milk was carried on a mule
So the farmers asked and obtained from the Parma Diocese some premises in Serravalle Ceno, by the river, near the ancient Baptistry.
At the beginning, the Cooperative was known simply as “Serravalle Ceno dairy”. In the first year of activity it produced no more than three cheese wheels. Those  were smaller than today, and were made only  during spring and summer.  From november to march, in fact, the production had to stop, because milk reached the factory by mules or horses, and the few paths weren’t practicable in winter.

Industrialization has depopulated the countryside, but cheesemakers don't give up
In the 60’s roads were built to connect the valleys and cross the rivers and only then
it  became possible to make cheese in cold season too, and to produce the famous “vernengo”: wintry Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, coming from cows fed only with dry fodder.
In the 70’s our valleys  saw the end of sharecropping and the starting of modernization and industrialization, but also the depopulation and the rural flight.
Only 40 associated of 114 remained, but production increased, thanks to mechanization and to new working tecniques: in those years, small subsistence farms became bigger and specialized.

Caseificio2Increased production, new premises, but quality is still the same
In the 80’s the dairy, that had always been were it was born and still is now, became far too small. Some restoration was needed.  Then the cooperative members bought  the factory from the Diocese and started the works.
In the new millenium the dairy was renovated again to abide by the  current regulations. Near the production area a new warehouse was set up to store  cheeses during their long and slow seasoning.

The dairy, now called “Il Battistero” (the Baptistry) as a tribute to  the renowned monument that has always watched over its work, still processes the milk of its associates: a fresh milk coming from our uncontaminated valleys, far from the city, where there aren’t any industrial sites; so to produce mountain Parmigiano Reggiano and other high-quality dairy products.

> Discover "The milk voyage" from the associated stables to the dairy.


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