Cascina Lago Scuro, in Stagno Lombardo, in the province of Cremona, is one of the many old farmhouses that over the centuries transformed some of the poorest areas in the Po Valley into one of the world’s most fertile and productive regions.
It is one of those large farmsteads – scattered in Lombardy, and portrayed in Italian cinema masterpieces like Ermanno Olmi’s “The Tree of Wooden Clogs” or Bernardo Bertolucci’s “1900” – that saw generation after generation of men and women take care of cattle, make cheese, plow the fields and sew wheat, corn, rice, barley. People here celebrated holidays, formed new families, raised and educated their children. They lived together, as small communities – sometimes including up to twenty families – orbiting around the same fields, granaries, dairy factories, barns, stables, ovens, wells, fountains and churches.
Most of those old hamlets have now been forgotten, abandoned, or transformed into nondescript industrial ranches.
Cascina Lago Scuro found a way to avoid such sad destiny in 1990, when Fabio Grasselli and his wife Paola decided to turn it into a farm, cheese factory, garden and B&B. The farmer’s house, manor house, stables, church, tower, lake and workers’ houses welcomed the return of life and work. And of children, with the small daycare center where little ones eat organic food made by the company, milk the Brown Swiss cows, work in the garden, learn to make bread, and – first and foremost – play in a wonderful place.
Who knows how many more old farms could be saved from their modern destiny.