'Cowboy' Chef-Owner Luigi Diotaiuti of Al Tiramisu Upholds Old Italian Tradition of Transumanza, Driving Cows to Cooler, Higher, Greener Pastures

Jul 31, 2012, 09:30 ET from Al Tiramisu


WASHINGTON, July 31, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Not only has Chef-Owner Luigi Diotaiuti burnished the Al Tiramisu brand as the most authentic Italian restaurant in Washington, DC, but he also traveled to Italy to help his brother Antonio uphold the ancient Italian tradition of Transumanza, which was a way of life in Italy for some 3000 years that's in danger of dying.                               

Transumanza means "crossing the land." It's the nearly disappearing, twice yearly migration of cows and sheep from winter-appropriate lowlands to cooler, high-altitude, lush pastures and back again. It has the full support of the Italian government. Each cow has ID "papers" to make this journey—number, date of birth, and health information including vaccines.

It's not exactly like the cattle drive in the popular American film "City Slickers," starring Billy Crystal and Jack Palance.  There are no Italian cowboys on horseback to herd the cattle—only men on foot both herding and shepherding hundreds of cows up and down hills, through pastures, gorges, valleys, refuges, glens of trees, rural villages and towns, and even down paved two-lane roads.

Even though he is fit and has participated in dozens of marathons on multiple continents, "Cowboy" Chef Luigi had his work cut out for him as he walked 120 kilometers, or 74 miles, with a crooked stick and helped herd 170 cattle, including little calves, for four long days starting from Tursi in the province of Matera, in the southern Italian region of Basilicata, and ultimately through his birthplace on a farm near Lagonegro until he finally left the cattle to graze in summer pasturelands in Monte Sirino, a ski resort in winter.

Walking to the ancient rhythm of cowbells and a different time, Chef Luigi had no reception much of the way for his beloved iPhone, which documented the journey on Al Tiramisu's Facebook page through photos and La Transumanza 2012 photo album.

The trip is not surprising because Chef Luigi believes in upholding traditions and helping family and country—both Italy and the USA. Last year, he marked the joint 150th anniversary of Italy and the 15th anniversary of Al Tiramisu with cooking classes featuring not only the food and paired wines of the 20 regions of Italy but also the history, culture, and people.

And how do you top that this year other than herding cows?  Inspired by handsome actor director George Clooney who has dined at the restaurant some 20 times—three times with his parents—Chef Luigi debuted a four-course "Superstar Dinner" to mark the restaurant's 16th year in business.  It seems appropriately named because Superstar Clooney—with his vacation home, Villa Oleandra in Laglio, on the shores of Lake Como in northern Italy—calls Italy his second home.

Proclaims Chef Luigi, "Now you, too, can dine like a Superstar with an Italian feast at Al Tiramisu."

Al Tiramisu, 2014 P St. NW, Washington, DC 20036.  Reservations: 202-467-4466. Valet parking seven nights a week 6-10 PM.

SOURCE Al Tiramisu