A day at Tenuta Vannulo

Intrigued by the person, by the company's mission and by the unique taste of his Mozzarella, in the early morning of a sunny day, I reach “Tenuta Vannulo” for meeting Mr. Antonio Palmieri. It’s  23th of December 2014, and I just have a notebook with me, like an experienced journalist.
Mr. Palmieri welcomes me into his studio, kindly saying that, unfortunately, he will not have enough time to share with me : his schedule is full, because on 23th December everybody is there, just to wish him a Merry Christmas.

But it will not end up thus: Mr. Antonio is absolutely not rushed , and he will dedicate me all the necessary time. Despite how busy he is (every 2 minutes he gets a phone call), the wish to narrate a piece of his own life, the story of his Company, in front of me and one of his old friend ,present at the meeting, is too strong.
I had promised myself to ask him some specific questions: "What is a Km 0 product ? What does mean «Territory» for you? Why do buffaloes listen music? Which is the meaning of  «transparency and traceability»? And above all,  may I taste the buffalo milk chocolate?"
My chocolate's craving will be satisfied, Mr. Antonio will bring to my (strong) attention (without leaving me the time for asking) 3 cups of pistachio, hazelnut and chocolate creams. And he will admit that he plans to serve them with a baked bun, in a wooden oven -as it was done once-, together with a small glass of fresh buffalo milk.

"Just as the bread and chocolate, eaten years ago at the time of my father," I thought.
He begins to tell me about  the beginning, and his love for animals. "You know that the feed of our animals is grown on 200 hectares of our property? Traceability is  total"
He confesses me, in Europe now , and in general, there are no economic crisis, that at the same time don’t represent a crisis of values. Italian people love to eat well, eat healthy, and a crisis can be interpreted more as a consumption’s contraction, a crisis of "fear" rather than economic, which then leads to the decrease of consume. But even the most expensive restaurant in Rome, are often crowded and sometimes it is difficult to find a place, even for the regular customers.
He tells me, "you know, in 1996 people and competitors called me a fool, when I had the idea of an Organic Mozzarella, but in 1988 I decided to put the production in direct and visual connection with the consumer, which was separated from the milking room only by a window, with the engine room on the other side. Today, the consumer does not easily believe to anything, but when he realizes that you don’t want to deceive him, he appreciates infinitely. "

Needless to say, I'm very fascinated by this person, who translated actually and exactly what I think often, that honesty is a value that pays for itself.
He says "I'm not doing something extraordinary, but just a normal thing. When we produce Mozzarella di Bufala, We speak of land, buffalo, and selling the product made in this way, with total transparency. But the news is this. Doing normal things, nowadays, is extra-ordinary.”
It comes to my mind, how many companies in Italy allocate considerable economic resources for exporting their products, but they seem much less in tune than Vannulo , with the values that represent a good globalization, which is the globalization of Truth?
And I can see that the exports are not certainly the first concern of Tenuta Vannulo.
Mr. Palmieri, he says smiling, has just a store, that is at the same time his factory. Who wants his mozzarella must go and get there, in their production plant.
I see him, smiling slyly and I wonder whether it is not a strategy, but the more he speaks, the more I realize that it's all part of love for what he does.

It seems that in this place the time has been stopped. But here is also felt a strong connection between Tradition and Innovation: next to the same rustic buildings, existing from immemorial time, has been set a stable with milking robots, among the most modern in the world.

The strength of the message that is expressed, goes beyond Italian boundary, and not only today through me, but thanks to the powerful “universal loudspeaker” that the net, together with the  globalization impose to the world. "You have an idea. Do things in a normal way. Do not fool anyone. Sell what is true." Who can say that this is not the recipe to exit from the “crisis of values” in which Italy and a part of Europe came across ? A crisis in which companies overproduce and then sell a product , humiliated by the stress of its same production process.

He continues, "this is the only cheese factory that makes everything by hand, the animal brushes himself when he wants, completely free, not forced by anyone ... that's why his milk is best.
The animals do not speak, but wish: yes they do it . They want wellness, just like us, and so this is the reason why they listen new age music here, a music that reflects the sounds of nature. "
He says, "We don't want to make fun of people and of consumers. Maybe that's the reason why today, the normality is so extraordinary. Sharing these values, normal values, is nowadays extraordinary.
When I talk with young people, I encourage them to change things, to think in a different way. The business is imagination. And, maintaining the quality standards so high, I incited the other competitors to make a better product ".

Going outside, I think, I want to buy the yogurt, mozzarella is surely sold out (the noon is past,  and I didn’t book it). Other times I tried to buy mozzarella without a reservation and I was not lucky. You know, the people in our country, does not like to wait. But the smile of the girls in the Mozzarella shop is not haughty, or forcibly irreverent. It reminds me the good values, and seems to say” we don’t have available now, sorry, is sold out, is a fresh product, you know”.

And in fact the customers, are able to perceive this feeling, and despite the crowd at the time to buy, a gentleman asked me 'I'm here recently, probably your turn is before than mine?
I make an attempt, and this time I'm lucky, I buy 2 mozzarella, 250 grams each, and a fresh ricotta. Enough for a lunch and a dinner, too. The bill : 10 Euro. I do not exaggerate when I say that this day has touched me a little bit. When you do something good, really good, this propagates at all levels. Mr. Palmieri, you're right, I did not feel teased.

Newer Post