URBINO, Italy – An elderly yet energetic woman backs through the curtain of wooden beads separating Machelleria Ubaldi, a butcher shop, from the sunny afternoon bustle of Via Rafaello near the center of town, still immersed in a loud and lively conversation with someone outside. Ending that exchange with a sharp laugh, she issues a quick buona sera while moving into an equally dynamic conversation with the young man behind the counter.
Buying meat in Italy is not a pre-packaged affair. Picking up steak, salami or prosciutto isn’t a case of reaching into refrigerated case and grabbing an anonymously shrink-wrapped package. It’s a trip to visit an old friend – the person who selects and cuts your dinner – as well as the line of local farmers he represents.
For nearly a decade the Ubaldi family – Davide, with his parents and younger sister – has operated the only family-owned butcher shop inside Urbino’s city walls, the Machelleria Ubaldi. Standing behind the counter, Davide slices meats and making sausages to order with customers who are considered part of the family.
Via Mariano Pallottini