Latte Ledro

The Fic's cheeses

What is the value of the flavour of milk from a Trentino farmstead? And when it is transformed into blocks of artisan mountain cheese

The question may seem trivial. If there are cows, there is milk. If there is milk, and at least a cheesemaker, a cauldron, rennet and enzymes, we can expect there to be cheese. But what type of cheese?  

We spent a day with Laura Oradini from Latte Ledro Farm, in the southern Trentino valley of the same name, and learned that the flavour of the milk and all the aromas recognisable in a curdled and fermented cheese are as precious as the love, hard work, dedication, sacrifice, courage and knowledge, both stolen and inherited, that created them.  

These are the values that the Oradini family has held for four generations, and we invite you to explore them today. This way, just like us, every time you have the opportunity to taste a slice of cheese, you can look for them, recognise them, appreciate them. We assure you that the result will be priceless. Because a journey into flavour is the ultimate adventure. Your palate ignites and deposits memories that the frenetic pace of daily life tends to lock away. You just need to find the key. Here, it is possible. All year round. 

For a conscious consumption of raw milk products, find out more

Laura e Ermanno Oradini | © Archivio Trentino Mktg

Laura's choice

You will discover that tasting processed live milk can offer as much true, intense emotion as the adventure undertaken at the beginning of the 1900s by a family that has never given up. And the dynamic, open, tireless Laura is the result.  

A girl who does everything she sets out to do and more. You'll find her on the farm every day, at the cheese counter or with her animals - cows, pigs and horses that all have names - before and after personally serving the best restaurateurs in the valley, all the way to Garda. 

You will be moved at her stories of love, respect and devotion to her father Ermanno, the cheesemaking artist, and her mother Cristina, and even more to her grandparents, who helped her to make choices that might be unpopular, but came from the heart. From a career in a multinational to her decision in 2014, at just 24, to transform the family farm from a milk supplier into an independent company.  

In the last 5 years, after an experience spending a few months on an American ranch, which gave her the right amount of distance to think and recharge, she has managed to increase production and sales of their products by 240%. If you meet her, you'll understand why. But be careful - you would do well to share the praise among all the members of the family, plus Nicolò, their young apprentice cheesemaker, who has a motto inked onto his skin: "The wolf is the strength of the pack, and the pack is the strength of the wolf". 

Mucche Latte Ledro | © Archivio Trentino Mktg

Laura's values

“A casa mia ci sono sempre stati debiti. Ho sempre sentito parlare di debiti ma mio papà”, Laura si emoziona, “ha sempre detto che finché c’è da mangiare sulla tavola, noi stiamo bene. I debiti si pagano da soli e, se non ci sono i soldi, vendiamo fuori quello che abbiamo. Lui sorride sempre e questa è la sua filosofia, un esempio di vita”.

Laura avrebbe voluto studiare all’istituto Agrario di San Michele all’Adige ma costava e avrebbe dovuto pagare un appartamento per la distanza da casa, così ha optato per qualcosa che potesse comunque tornare utile per far stare meglio la famiglia. Si è iscritta a ragioneria e, mentre, dall’età di 15 anni ha tenuto in mano i conti di casa e della stalla, dopo il diploma, si è fatta notare come amministrativa, poi addetta agli acquisti e alla logistica di una grande azienda trentina metalmeccanica.

Latte Ledro ha sede nella casa, fuori paese, dove già vivevano i genitori di papà Ermanno, detto il Fic, da fico per le sue forme, fin da bambino, paffute. L’ufficio di Laura è proprio nella vecchia stalla dove all’inizio del secolo scorso la famiglia teneva 4 mucche per l’autosussistenza.

Latte Ledro, a real Trentino experience

"You should have met my grandma. She had three sons, and then when her husband's brother, who had four children, died, my grandma brought up her three sons and helped her sister-in-law as well. She had nothing, but for anyone who passed by here, there was always room at the table. She worked as a cleaner day and night, sewed, worked in the fields; she did everything to keep her family going. She had the strength of three men - if you could only see her work... growing up with men, she had to be more of a man than they were, and that's what everyone says to me too: Laura, people are intimidated when they see you...". 

After all, there's no end to the work on the farm. Saturday, Sunday, Christmas, August bank holiday - the cows need to be taken care of and milked twice a day, and the milk has to be processed fresh, as soon as it is milked.  

Caglio Latte Ledro | © Archivio Trentino Mktg

Laura's cheeses

The Fic's cheeses are made from the milk of around 80 cows, including Swiss Brown, Friesian, Jersey and Pezzata Rossa breeds. Every cow produces a certain type of milk - lower or higher in fat, or with more protein - which is used for specific types of cheese. All of the milk is processed raw, without pasteurisation, which gives the cheese a thick, creamy consistency that melts in the mouth, fills it with flavour, makes your mouth water, at any stage of maturing. It also holds onto the aroma of grass and hay, which is difficult to forget, and whether it is stronger or more subtle, it is present in every type of cheese. 

The cheeses - around 10 types plus butter - take the names of the meadows above the farm, where the animals are taken to forage in the summer, in higher and higher pastures. They use natural calf rennet, enzymes produced directly in house by mamma Cristina, and the cheeses are guarded jealously in a cellar, where every week they are oiled personally by the skilful hands of Ermanno. Hands that are moving to witness, that know how to recognise the temperature of the cauldron even before checking, that move and cut the cheeses with the smile of a beginner who has been repeating the same gestures for 60 years.  

Latte Ledro, a real Trentino experience

Then there is the smell of the hay on the farm, which is packed up for the cowshed; the hay from the same, high-altitude green meadows, which even after drying keeps its larch green colour and a fragrance so intense and sweet that you want to roll around in it.  

The butter is called Geometra, like the highest peak in the valley. The soft caciotta is Croina, after the pasture that creates it. The caciottas seasoned with chives, thyme, wild garlic and chilli are called Coloer, after the name of a hidden corner of paradise managed by the Oradini family since 1990, and so on: cheeses for the plate, right up to two mature ones named after the most prized pastures, Vies and Candria. 

Caciotte Latte Ledro | © Archivio Trentino Mktg

Laura's projects

While she opens and closes files in her head, containing everything the company needs, from the tractor to baskets, from health certifications to orders, Laura still manages to find time to take the customers who arrive to stock up on her products to the cowsheds, where she offers them a guided tasting session among the calves before their purchase. 

"I don't do long-term projects, because I plan continuously, day by day. I had the idea to give my mum and dad more time for themselves, but I am realising that the more we increase production, the more there is to do, so they are still working all the time. But I have managed to turn things around - balancing the books and helping people to see the value of products that are now recognised as delicacies". 

Bottega Latte Ledro | © Archivio Trentino Mktg
Coloer Latte Ledro | © Archivio trentino Mktg
Burro Latte Ledro | © Archivio Trentino Mktg
Laura Oradini | © Archivio Trentino Mktg
Freschi Latte Ledro | © Archivio Trentino Mktg

But Laura has many projects, and she will tell you about them as if she had already completed them, always looking to the future. She accompanies people on horse rides and teaches pony care with her two horses. She doesn't teach you to gallop, but instead to love the animal and take responsibility for its life. She has taken an apiculture course in order to continue with her uncle's beehives and improve her explanations of cheese and honey pairings during tasting sessions, where she helps people recognise the combination of the four prevalent flavours in cheese - sweet, salty, sour and bitter - and when bitter and salty override the other two, explains that something hasn't worked. And then there is her museum project, where she tells the story of local people's lives through equipment and personal photographs lent to her by the community.  

"I like history, because old photos move me; photos of real life. There is something beautiful in all those photos, which is that everyone is smiling - they are working hard, but they have real smiles; they are covered in mud, but the children have those faces, such beautiful smiles, not like today's selfies. Today we have lots of photos, but no memories. Instead, back then, there weren't many photos, but there were lots of memories, and they get to you, you feel them right in your stomach". 

You can get to Bezzecca, in Val di Ledro, on foot or by car. Here, you have the opportunity to learn about milk and a piece of history from the valley. When you meet Laura, look her in the eye and hold your gaze. You might just find that it moves you.  

Formaggi Latte Ledro | © Archivio Trentino Mktg

Latte Ledro

Published on 15/07/2024