Daniela catena: Multi-talented Woman

Story by Dianne Conlee

She is a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend, a bookkeeper and a butcher. Daniela Catena greets customers at Macelleria with an easy smile and a cheerful “Ciao!”  Some days, she navigates the meat grinders and knives while offering suggestions and cracking jokes. Other days, she goes over the shop’s numbers.

Macelleria is a small, local butcher shop that’s part of the Cooperativa Agricola tra Coltivatori, a community agriculture co-operative.  The livestock and crops are raised on a farm just three miles outside of Cagli, Italy.  Co-op members share the crops and meat produced on the farm. 

The original Macelleria shop on Via Lapis has been renovated 48 times since it opened. From the counters to the floors, the shop is immaculate. Many residents of Cagli come in daily for ingredients for their meals.  Chicken, beef and pork are ground fresh while ladies wait with their shopping bags. On the days she works as a butcher, Daniela is in constant motion waiting on customers, prepping large orders or cleaning the counters and tools of the shop.

Twenty-two years ago, Daniela finished her studies in accounting at a now-closed Cagli school.  With no accounting jobs available, Daniela’s father, a member of the co-op, asked the owner of Macelleria to hire his daughter.  Daniela started as a bookkeeper, and then when the shop opened a second location, she began working as a butcher in the original location.  “It was a job,” says Daniela. That’s how a CPA becomes a butcher in Cagli.

Daniela still does bookkeeping in the office upstairs from the butcher shop.  She is surrounded by paperwork. On her desk sits a photo of her young son, Adriano. “He is my life, my love,” she says. Just shy of five years old, Adriano is learning English at school, and Daniela helps him practice at home.  Her husband works in Rome during the week and drives back home on Saturdays.

Daniela’s parents still own a farm on the outskirts of town, but instead of working the land, her father rents out parcels for others to cultivate.  “There’s no money in the farm,” explains Daniela.  

Macelleria has just six employees.  When someone takes a vacation, Daniela trades in her calculator for an apron and knife.  On these days, Daniela cuts, wraps and sells the various types of meat sold at the shop.  In a side section of the shop, Macelleria offers cheese made by Daniela’s mother and wine by the bottle or jug.  Daniela works from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 7:30 p.m. 

When the shop is fully staffed, Daniela works in a shared office space with Gino, the co-op president.  With its entrance next to the shop, the office space is up a small flight of stairs and overlooks New Cagli and beyond.  The walls are covered with charts, graphs and a couple of inside jokes.

“I love Cagli,” says Daniela. “I was born here; raised here. I work here and live here.” 


Daniela welcomes you to the Macelleria.

Daniela welcomes you to the Macelleria.

[Click image for slideshow]