Carmasciano is a small grazing area that extends for a radius of about four km in the Ansanto valley, in the heart of upper Irpinia. Most of the pastures are concentrated along the south-facing slope, which slopes down from Mount Forcuso to the valley, between 800 and 500 meters above sea level.
Virgil, in the Aeneid, describes this place as an enchanted land: There is a place in the center of Italy surrounded by high mountains, famous and famous in every place: the Ansanto valley. It has then and therefore dark woods, and among the woods a river that rumbles and falls through great stones, and so gnaws the banks and the steeps, which makes a horrible and abysmal cavern.
The valley is in fact characterized by the presence of the Mefite di Rocca San Felice, a lake of sulphurous origin fed by sulphurous pools, which boils as a result of gas emissions from the subsoil. The sulfur emanating from the waters characterizes the forage essences of the area, which in turn give the milk a very particular and complex flavor.
The Pecorino produced in this area has in fact a marked olfactory note of sulfur, hints of fresh milk, freshly cut grass and flowers. In the mouth, it first perceives a sweet and very delicate flavor, then a spicy note and, in the finish, a slight aftertaste of sulfur.
Raw sheep’s milk (without the addition of enzymes) is placed in the caccavo (copper boiler), heated to a temperature of 36-38 °, on a wood fire. Coagulation takes place with lamb or kid rennet or even calf liquid. The curd is broken up to obtain granules the size of a grain of rice and is left to settle on the bottom of the boiler. Then the pasta is collected, placed in wicker baskets and, subsequently, it is scalded in hot whey. The salting is dry.
Pecorino di Carmasciano reaches its maximum sensory expressiveness towards 12 months of aging. The role of the maturing rooms is fundamental: the molds that develop inside the rooms contribute to the perfect maturation of the product.
Until the 1950s, every peasant family in the area produced Pecorino for family consumption and raised two sheep breeds: the Laticauda and the Bagnelese (also called Malvizza). Subsequently, the families who remained in the area increased the number of heads up to 50 sheep: the production was thus transformed into a source of income for the families: the pecorino di Carmasciano and the lambs were sold at the market or in company.
In November 1980 the earthquake in Irpinia marked the beginning of the abandonment of the lands. Those who could have left the country to join their emigrant family members and the small farms have almost completely disappeared.
The reconstruction in Irpinia lasted over 40 years and those who remained began to hope for a job in the factories that, in the meantime, were born in the area. Some families, however, have restarted the production of Pecorino and in 2008 the Pecorino di Carmasciano Association was born, which brought together eight producers, with the aim of making known a production of excellence in the Italian dairy scene, to save the Laticauda breed and to promote its hilly and uncontaminated territory.
The association tells the stories of the producers, their effort to take care of the territory and safeguard the laticauda sheep (a breed that is in danger of extinction, but which offers high quality milk).
The Presidium was created to support the association and aims to support the entire local economy, also promoting conscious and attentive food and wine tourism.
Carmasciano, municipalities of Sant’Angelo de ‘Lombardi, Rocca San Felice, Guardia de’ Lombardi and Frigento, province of Avellino.
Az. Agr. La Verga di Nigro Antonio, Via Toriello, 3 – 83050 Rocca San Felice (AV), Cell. 3664318107 / 3402999694
Az. Agr. Fogione Incoronata, C.da Carmasciano 15, Rocca S.Felice (Av), Cell. 328/3615572
Az. Agr. Flammia Rosa, Via Migliano, 1 – 83040 Frigento (Av), Tel. 3478842604
Flammia Giuseppe, C.da Acqua Nocelle – 83040 Frigento (Av), Tel. 3890827688