Now in its ninth year, Slow Food’s biennial international event – Cheese – kicks off today, with producers, visitors and rare and unusual cheeses from around the world taking over the streets of the small Italian town of Bra, where the Slow Food movement was born. Over the next four days, hundreds of types of cheese will be displayed, sniffed, tasted, analyzed, sold, catalogued and enjoyed in markets, taste workshops, conferences, dinners and the Great Hall of Cheese, along with revelation of the fascinating stories and histories behind them. A total of 27 nations will be represented, from our European neighbors including Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Romania and the UK, to those from further afield including Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and the USA. Members of the Slow Food network, producers (including those from over 50 Presidia), international journalists and thousands of visitors are also expected to make their way to the event. With hotel rooms booked up months ago and locals hosting as many people as possible, last minute guests will be lucky to find any remaining floor space. In 2011 an estimated 160,000 took part in the event. The kilos of cheese arriving will also be competing for space, occupying 3300 mq of market stalls and 1200 mq in the Great Hall of Cheese. What remains to be seen is the number of ‘surprise’ products that will arrive as nominations for the Ark of Taste, Slow Food’s catalogue of endangered products at risk of disappearing. “Save a Cheese” is the theme of this year’s event, and in the lead up to the Cheese, we have been asking anyone and everyone to save an endangered dairy product by adding it to the Ark of Taste. Those who are coming to Bra are invited to bring samples of the product they wish to save. There will be a unique space dedicated to these new arrivals: for sampling, cataloging and exhibiting. After months of intense organization, a full and diverse program is in place from 20 – 23 September - day and night. Mostly about cheese, but not entirely. When not in taste workshops or conferences, visitors can explore the street food and beer piazza, sample international coffees, or grab a bite at the Pizza Piazza. Cocktails made from Presidia products will also be on offer! You find the full programme and all details at cheese.slowfood.it You can also follow the event on Twitter: #cheese2013 and keep an eye on Slow Food International Facebook page for live updates, photos and latest news.