Italian Farmer Killed by Wall of Cheese

A tragic incident unfolded in northern Italy on Sunday night when a 74-year-old dairy farmer was killed in a catastrophic accident at his cheese warehouse. Giacomo Chiapparini, the proprietor of the renowned Chiapparini cheese-making company in Lombardy, was buried under thousands of wheels of hard parmesan-style cheese when the towering shelves holding the 90lb wheels of grana padano cheese gave way.

Chiapparini was operating a machine designed to rotate and clean the cheese wheels at various stages of their maturation process when the metal shelves collapsed. The incident created a domino effect, causing the entire warehouse, which housed 25,000 cheese wheels, to crumble.

The cheese wheels, each weighing 90 pounds and stacked 20 high, fell from shelves as tall as 33 feet, burying Chiapparini. An employee who was outside the warehouse at the time of the incident heard the commotion and promptly alerted authorities.

Emergency services, including firefighters and police officers, rushed to the scene in the town of Romano di Lombardia near Bergamo. The rescue operation was a daunting task, with responders spending 12 hours sifting through the mounds of fallen cheese wheels in the 21,500-square-foot storage space. Despite their tireless efforts, Chiapparini’s body was only recovered early Monday.

The cause of the accident is currently under investigation. Bortolo Ghislotti, president of the local agricultural district, speculated in an interview with Italian media that the machine used to clean the cheese might have malfunctioned, triggering the disaster.

In the aftermath of the accident, Chiapparini’s family is now faced with the urgent task of salvaging the remaining cheese wheels. They must be moved to climate-controlled warehouses of nearby businesses to prevent them from spoiling in the summer heat.

Ghislotti estimates the economic impact of the accident to be around $7.7 million. This figure includes the cost of the machine used to rotate and clean the cheese wheels, which was destroyed in the collapse.

Chiapparini’s company, which has been producing the popular grana padano cheese since 2006, is spread over 24 acres of land. It includes stables, warehouses, milking facilities, and a ship. Chiapparini, remembered by a neighbor as a man who tirelessly worked to support his family, is survived by his wife, children, and young grandchildren.