A tragic incident in Italy has left a family grieving and scrambling to salvage their livelihood after an avalanche of cheese wheels claimed the life of their patriarch. Giacomo Chiapparini, a 74-year-old Italian cheese maker, lost his life when as many as 15,000 wheels of cheese, each weighing up to 84 pounds, fell on him in a warehouse mishap.
The unfortunate incident occurred while he was checking his stock, and a shelf buckled under the weight of the cheese wheels. The avalanche of cheese wheels caused a sound “like thunder,” prompting neighbors to alert firefighters.
It took authorities 12 hours to locate Chiapparini’s body amidst the cheese wreckage. Preliminary investigations suggest that a machine used by Chiapparini to rotate and clean the cheese wheels might have triggered the collapse.
However, a more thorough inquiry is underway to determine the exact cause of the tragic incident. The Chiapparini family’s warehouse in Lombardy held a staggering 25,000 wheels of Grana Padano, a type of hard cheese similar to Parmesan.
The economic loss from the incident amounted to approximately $7.7 million. In addition to coping with the loss of their beloved family member, the Chiapparini family faces the urgent task of preserving the remaining cheese stock.
The cheese wheels must be stored in a climate-controlled environment, and the summer heat poses a threat to their quality. As they mourn the loss of Giacomo Chiapparini, his wife Angela and their two children are seeking help from colleagues and fellow cheese makers to save the remaining wheels.
Bortolo Ghislotti, president of the local agricultural district, highlighted the family’s efforts to find someone willing to accommodate the cheese wheels, which otherwise might go to waste. This incident brings to mind a previous catastrophe that struck the cheese industry in Italy.
An earthquake in 2012 damaged warehouses belonging to the Parmigiano-Reggiano consortium, resulting in the loss of 360,000 wheels of cheese valued at over $200 million. In that crisis, Chiapparini had stepped in to help by conserving 10,000 wheels of cheese to mitigate the losses.
Giacomo Chiapparini’s legacy extends beyond his dedication to his craft; he was a hardworking family man who supported his wife, children, and grandchildren.
The Chiapparini family had been producing Grana Padano cheese since 2006. As they navigate this tragedy and its aftermath, their determination to salvage their cheese supply and honor their patriarch’s memory stands as a testament to their resilience and love for their craft.