Bra, Italy; Cheese 2017. Day one.

Bra is a town in the Piedmont of Italy to the west of Milan and south of Turin.

From the top of the town, in the far distance you can see the dark forms of the Alps. It's easy to forget that a trip across the Alps from Bra, lands you in the Savoie region of France. In fact the Piedmont has bee rule by the French House of Savoie in the past.

Not now. It's a very Italian town, full of cafeteria, enoteca, pizzeria, and pasteficcio. It is also the home of the Slow Food movement.

Subscribers to the movement believe that's good should be a natural production for the land, using all it has to give and nothing else - all the animal, vegetable, microbial and environmental resources.

This year it is the 20th year of the Cheese festival, which takes place in alternating years, and is celebrating raw milk cheese.

Pasteurized products have no place here.

The center of Bra is for this weekend completely pedestrianized, and stuff full of tents containing cheese, yoghurt, beer and wine. As well as various different venues for discussions and lectures, as well as tastings.

More in those tomorrow, but today since we arrived late from Boston - around 4:30 - today is all about taking it in, and practice speaking Italian.

It's truly overwhelming - more so than the American Cheese Society event. Not only are the number of street food vendors staggering, but the number of caseificio (cheese makers), distributors, consortiums, and organizations is more than I have ever seen.

And the number of people is staggering. The event is spread over a couple of square miles, and pretty much every road is like a bustling high street.

A couple of quick discoveries already have caught the eye:

A year aged Ossau Iraty, which has a more sheep and lanolin profile than the regular 6 month cheese.

A water buffalo caprino-like cheese.

A wonderful reblochon.

Stichelton, the raw milk version of Stilton.

Tomorrow, there will be more eating and a discussion on Raw Milk, as well as a barley Wine Pairing, and sampling of Bermondsey beers with Neals Yard Cheese.

It should be meraviglioso.

#cheese #rawmilk #italy #bra #realcheese