At the beginning of the 12th century, in the foothills of the Appennine-Reggiano mountains, these Benedictine monks also became farmers and raised animals thus resolving many of the problems related to their own livelihood and that of the people who settled around the monestary. Antique documents tell of mead, sweets and beer that were made in the Marola Benedictine workshops, and how they raised cows for the milk that was transformed into cheeses. One of these cheeses stood out from the others, “il formadio”, the predecessor of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Over a period of centuries farmers tried to duplicate the techniques of the monks of Marola by processing the milk from their own herds. At the beginning of the 17th century in the local bourghs the first dairies began to spring up. They were small family operations that each day managed to produce a number of cheese forms: Frombolara of Marola to mention just one. In just a few decades this particular cheese became known everywhere as Parmigiano-Reggiano.
By the beginning of the 1900s Parmigiano-Reggiano’s noteworthy place in Italian cuisine and at tables world-wide was confirmed. Meanwhile, in Marola, right where the monks had invented formadio, a group of farmers founded the Dairy of Marola Cooperative. They built on 800-year-old traditions there among the chestnut groves at 800 meters of altitude in the Reggiano Appenine Mountains. The place continues to be preferred terrain for raising cows and for the production of the “king” of cheeses.
Marola is established as the birthplace of the “king” of cheeses by the discovery of a rare parchment conserved in the Abbey of Marola. Thanks to this prescious document we understand that in 1159 the Martino brothers, Giovanni and Domenico, signed a land lease contract with payment specified in cash and “tres aporto de formadio”. Note: “formadio” was not the term used for common cheese, which was called formaticum, but indicated a new type of cheese product that we know today as Parmigiano-Reggiano.
The Rossi brothers– today agriculturalists specialized in food chemistry – spent their childhood in the 60s alongside their father, a dairyman and cheese-maker. The brothers have transformed the cheese factory of the old cooperative dairy into a private company. There they combine passion for a product that is unique in the world with their knowledge of chemistry and technology for dairies and cheese making. In just a few short years the Rossi brothers have modernized and updated the Dairy and Cheese Factory of Marola. And they remain faithful to their artisan working methods that carry on the tradition of Parmigiano-Reggiano born in Marola over eight centuries ago.