The Acetaia Dodi Story
I’d like to welcome you to the world of agricultural food products from the Reggio Emilia area in Italy and thank you for selecting a product that has been a family tradition for over a century. It all started in 1891, in the little town of Gavasseto, in the province of Reggio Emilia when my grandmother, Carmelina Ligabue, was born.
As was the custom and culture among well-to-do landowners, my great-grandfather Anselmo Ligabue made up a set of wooden casks of balsamic vinegar for her, and this was part of her dowry when, in 1915 she married Ricordano Dodi, Master Dairyman for the production of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in Bastiglia, near Modena. In 1925, the market for Parmigiano-Reggiano went into a terrible slump that ruined many operators, including my grandfather Ricordano, who lost everything and had to leave Bastiglia with his wife and their five children, and move to S. Valentino di Castellarano (Case Ferri district).
To help them through the hard times, Grandfather Ricordano asked Grandmother Carmelina to sell her casks of balsamic vinegar but she was adamant: “I held onto them when you were at war, and I’ll save them again this time to leave to our firstborn son Rolando”. They lived in S. Valentino until 1930, poor but proud to keep alive the family tradition of balsamic vinegar to hand down to their children. Grandmother Carmelina pressed Trebbiano grapes for the juice to top up the casks of vinegar she stored like precious treasure in a tiny attic room over the children’s bedroom.
Knowledge Passed Down
In February 1930, the family moved to a nearby town called Cadiroggio. There Rolando, the eldest son, worked as a master dairyman, married Elda and in 1951 I was born. As the firstborn son, and according to the custom of commemorating my grandfather, who had died, I was named Ricordano.
Grandmother Carmelina, for whom I always had a special fondness, communicated her love of balsamic vinegar to me as a child, and taught me all the rituals that for centuries have characterized its preparation: how she gathered the grapes, and pressed them with her feet, then cooked the must in a copper pot to top up the casks. She taught me many little secrets as well – and the best technique to make an excellent cooked must: add a few nuts to prevent it from turning the greenish color of the copper pot; boil it over a low flame; put a few glass balls in the pot to keep the must from burning. When Grandmother Carmelina died, as the firstborn son I inherited the casks of Riserva di Famiglia.
Still in the family
My busy life as a cheese producer, following in my father’s footsteps, never quenched my passion for balsamic vinegar, but rather increased it. My sister Liviana’s marriage, and the birth of her two sons Mirco and Herry are some of the events associated with the growth of the number of casks in our vinegar plant. This passion is shared by my wife Valeria too. So now you could say that the entire Dodi family is a “prisoner” of the world of balsamic vinegar. Our plant, called Acetaia Dodi, is in Casalgrande along the old road that leads to Canossa, the Fortress of that great lady of history, Matilde, a place rich in history and site of fabulous events. Today, I am happy to be able to let you enjoy part of our Riserva di Famiglia.
By Ricordano Dodi, August 2012
Casalgrande, Province of Reggio Emilia, Italy