Italy, Fast & Slow: Behind the Unlikely Rise of Eataly

Alberto Pizzoli / AFP / Getty Images

Small-batch specialty hams are among the 3,000 products on the shelves at Eataly

Three days a week, a retired agricultural officer named Teodoro Vadalà sets to work in the back of what was once a small roadside shop about an hour and a half south of Rome, making a cheese that has twice come close to extinction. Using a stirring stick and a large aluminum vat, he curdles sheep's milk into small wheels of cheese, which he shapes by hand and sets on a table to dry. Il Conciato di San Vittore, as the cheese is called, represents the deepest roots of Italian culinary production — small scale, artisanal, steeped in history. Yet the...

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