Will the Great Italian Goat Giveaway Really Go Ahead?

| Wed, 04/17/2024 - 13:00
Demand for goats from Alicudi has now outpaced the supply
Demand for goats from Alicudi has now outpaced supply, in a twist local authorities likely didn’t expect / Photo: zuul72 via Shutterstock

You may have heard of Alicudi, a small, remote island north of Sicily in the Aeolian archipelago. Overrun by wild-turned-domesticated goats, it’s been the subject of much media attention over the past few weeks: Alicudi’s mayor Riccardo Gullo hatched a goat giveaway scheme to purge the island of its ruminant-related problems, but the demand for cuddly capre has now outpaced the supply.

The goateed invasion

Alicudi is just five square kilometers (two square miles) and only has about 100 residents. A recent census estimated that goats outnumbered humans six to one. Though the photogenic, postcard-famous goats charm visitors, their rapid rate of reproduction has created problems for the local community since they were first brought to the island (by one farmer who set them free there some two decades ago, according to CNN).

Migrating from the steep and rocky hinterlands down into inhabited areas, the goats have caused damage to vegetation, stone walls and gardens; some have even wandered into people’s homes. 

Mayor Gullo announced earlier this month that goats would be given away free of charge to anyone who wanted them (and, crucially, could catch them) and set a deadline of April 10 for applying. 

Gullo got more than he bargained for: Italian news agency ANSA reported that some 25 applications were submitted, many by breeders. The total demand was for 1900 goats — 1300 more than are actually available. Activists from associations like LNDC Animal Protection and AIDA&A (Italian Association for Animal and Environmental Defense) have since pushed back, claiming that the relocation project does not take into account the goats’ welfare.

In response, the project initiator Giovanni Dell’Acqua, a longtime agriculture councillor in Sicily, told Corriere della Sera that “there is complete openness to dialogue with animal rights associations” and pointed out that the project has already been approved by the leading national body on animal protection, ISPRA (the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research), among other environmental and animal welfare authorities.

As the Great Italian Goat Giveaway of 2024 remains in bureaucratic and logistical limbo, we at Italy Magazine thought it worthwhile to spotlight a handful of wonderful and welfare-minded goat farms in Italy — and one in the US with significant Italian ties — where you can pet, feed and comb goats without the long-term commitment of adopting a “kid.” Check these out.

Italian goat farms to visit 

1: Fattoria Il Secondo Altopiano, Umbria

Located on the outskirts of Orvieto between the hamlets of Canonica and Sugano, Fattoria Il Secondo Altopiano is a 15-hectare organic dairy goat farm where you can visit the happy herd and then enjoy lunch made of exquisite, hand-turned cheese.

2: Chianti Cashmere, Tuscany

Said to be the first and largest cashmere goat farm in Italy, Chianti Cashmere near Radda in Chianti is the only agricultural enterprise in Europe certified by the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network (WFEN). 

Learn about how the farm raises cashmere goats, how the fibers are harvested and what goes into producing a finished garment. You can cosplay as a shepherd for a day, or from February through May, pitch in to help goats shed their winter coats. The farm supplies a goat and a comb, but you bring the elbow grease.

3: Fattoria le Caprine, Tuscany

Nestled in the hills of the Val d’Elsa outside the village of Certaldo, Le Caprine has 88 resident goats you can meet and greet. Follow up your visit with a tour of the farm’s fascinating artisan cheese-processing laboratory. 

4: David’s Goashof, Alto Adige

After working for years in an office, David Perathoner of  David’s Goashof needed a change. Now one of the most famous goat farmers in Lajen, Alto Adige (South Tyrol), David keeps about 20 kids on his farm for breeding and 60 Edelzeige goats (German Improved Fawns) for milking. He then processes the milk mostly by hand. 

The farm recently added a tasting room to welcome groups of up to 16 people to taste their goat products, including milk, yogurt, creamy fresh and semi-hard cheeses and goat-milk desserts like panna cotta and blancmange.

5: Mama Farm, Upstate New York

Founded by Italian fashion model, actress, writer, producer, director and animal behaviorist Isabella Rossellini, Mama Farm in Brookhaven on Long Island has a mission to promote conservation and biodiversity. In the summer of 2023, Mama Farm launched a capsule collection with farm-to-fashion originals by designer Aisling Camps in collaboration with Moda Operandi. Mama Farm also has an onsite B&B and an impressive revolving program of community events and educational workshops designed in the spirit of the Italian piazza.

Topic:Travel Travel