Sunday, May 22, 2011

Say Cheese!
Only in Italy . . .
. . . can you find a cheese throwing contest. Uh-huh. And Greta and I had that fascinating experience today. Have you ever seen doughy, old, half naked men roll giant blocks of pecorino as far as possible? No? Lucky for you we are reporting on it! Actually Mom bribed us, but that's not the point. It turned out it was actually cool. The men wrapped rope around the cheese and then flung it. We were in danger of being knocked out by formaggio more than once. The cheese was actually hard enough for them to crack hazelnuts with. So we sat back with our Sprite and chips. On the sidelines we met an American couple and their son who have lived in Cinque Terre for three years and a French family that speak great English. At the end we ate the dented cheese. Yum! Check out our footage:

Mille Grazie to T and Greta for your great reporting on this important event.  When I got the e-mail from the Meet Up Group, I knew it was a not-to-be-missed event. But then I had to sweat off my hangover from last night's dancing with Charlie's Italian Angels. In essence, I resorted to bribing the girls to go so that I could take a nap.

Where did it go?
Here is some of the e-mail. Thanks for the info, Marlene!

On Sunday 22 May in Lucca there’s a wonderful opportunity to witness one of Tuscany’s lesser known but most ancient sporting disciplines – cheese throwing. ‘Tiro della Forma’ is steeped in history, was practiced by the Etruscans (check out the 6th century Etruscan frescoes in the Tomba delle Olimpiadi in Tarquinia), and is still very popular today in the rural towns of the Garfagnana valley, just north of Lucca. On Sunday, the sporting association ‘Tiro della Forma Lucca-Garfagnana’ is holding its annual Doubles Trophy at its headquarters beside the Serchio river just outside Lucca.

So what is this cheese throwing all about? Throwing and rolling, and the cheese that travels furthest wins. Cheese throwers wrap a long strap around a whole ‘form’ of pecorino cheese (weighing between 3 and 30kg), and attach the free end of the strap to their wrist. There’s a run-up and a jump, launching the cheese and using the leather strap as it unwinds to ‘whip’ it and give it maximum momentum. The cheese hurtles off along a track that is anything between 200 and 300m long. It requires power, coordination, timing and technique to ensure that the cheese rolls fast and straight…and of course, some don’t. Broken cheeses are shared out amongst the spectators – at this event last year we were presented with a tray of hunks of pecorino to pass around, the remains of a cheese that had veered sadly ‘off-piste’ and collided with a tree. The cheese was delicious – and I was amused to notice some very well-dressed local ladies stuffing large chunks of it into their designer handbags.

I can't help it; these guys remind me of Twinkle-toes.
I hear there is an American lady who stayed home with a hangover.

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